Responsibility

They said I had to do it
So I shut my mouth
And did what I had to do

They said it was important
So I closed my eyes
And let it happen

They said it would be a dirty job
So I held my nose
And did what needed to be done

They said this was the only way
So I let them tie my hands
And followed their rules

They said a bunch of bad things about me
But I just plugged my ears
And finished my job

But when they told me that they weren’t satisfied,
When they told me that they didn’t like what I’d done

I told them to go to hell

what did they expect?

I couldn’t see
I couldn’t hear
I couldn’t fucking move
And I could hardly breathe.

– Mel

The 10 Best Shows Ever (TV Mega Post 5/5)

The final installment of my TV Mega Post in five parts is a list of my favorite shows of all-time.

While editing I set up a couple of rules. The most important of these being that no matter how good a show was for how ever many seasons it was good, if it fell off the cliff of excellence into the abyss of what-the-hell-happened-to-my-show, it is not on the list. This eliminated many many good shows.

The second rule is that no one gets to point a gun at me.

You got balls. I’ll give you that much.

Also the list does not contain shows that are still running because… well… who knows if they can keep from going over that cliff. “I’m looking your way Doctor Who.” (Can’t wait until Saturday September 1st though. Woo hoo)

Now to the list.

And NO  GUNS!

Top 10 Best TV Shows Ever

#10 Sports Night created by Aaron Sorkin

sports night

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I want to work at a job where everyone speaks Sorkin. I love this writer’s dialogue. It is a joy to watch his impossibly smart and extraordinarily witty characters duel with words.

Sports Night was a half hour comedy that took place at a sports network (like ESPN) If you like his new show The Newsroom (and I love that shit) you should check out Sports Night. Before The West Wing he brought us this superb piece of television goodness with the amazing Felicity Huffman and Peter Krause.

This show was ahead of its time. It only lasted 45 episodes over 2 seasons and they still hold up well.

Favorite Episode: Mary Pat Shelby

“Right now, right at this very moment, how much do you love me?”

#9 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles created by Josh Friedman

This short-lived series taken from from the Terminator story showing the lives of Sarah Connor and her son John; the future savior of the human race in our war against the machines, is an action-packed story with great acting, great effects and was greatly under-appreciated.

You might want to rethink that no gun policy.

“You might want to rethink that no gun policy.”

With only 31 episodes, it was never given the chance to develop and was cancelled after 2 seasons but it was consistently good while it was on the air.

Favorite Terminator: Cameron

“I’m sorry. It’s in my programming.”

You can point all the guns you want at me, Summer. You know I still love ya.

#8 Firefly created by Joss Whedon

firefly

Firefly only lasted for 14 episodes but they were 14 spectacular episodes. A mix of Trek & Galactica with a little Bebop thrown into a Sergio Leone western.

“I hear you got a thing for guns.”

Enough. No more guns.

An original series that was too good for FOX with an amazingly beautiful cast of great characters. Joss Whedon and his crew of talented writers created a group of characters and a universe that was so attractive I want to go to there.

I have a thing for Kaylee.

It was not given enough time to develop. But with the release of the movie Serenity, Joss Whedon was able to wrap up the story very nicely. And when I include this series on my list of the best shows of all-time, the movie Serenity must also be included as the last episode of the series.

Firefly and the series finale Serenity are an excellent and complete story.

Favorite Episode: Out of Gas

“You all gonna be here when I wake up?”

#7 Cowboy Bebop written by Keiko Nobumoto

The only animated show on the list, Cowboy Bebop is one of the coolest shows ever. In just 26 episodes and a movie it tells the story of a group of intergalactic bounty hunters running away from their respective pasts.

“I’m not real good at following orders.”

Each of the 26 episodes (called Sessions) is named after a famous Jazz, Rock or Blues song in this extremely well-written and gritty space western but there is also an overarching story that is satisfying. The main characters Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed and Ein the dog are all enigmas with mysterious and questionable pasts that are revealed over the life of the series.

A sensational show that I try to watch as least once a year. And the soundtrack is outstanding. Especially the opening & closing theme songs which are so fucking cool.

Favorite Song: Tank! Cowboy Bebop Theme

“I think it’s time we blow this scene. Get everybody and the stuff together. Okay? 3… 2… 1. Let’s jam.”

 

#6 Monty Python‘s Flying Circus created by Monty Python

Monty Python

The most Iconic sketch comedy show of all sketch comedy shows that influenced all sketch comedy that came after it.

Six of the funniest men to ever walk the planet just being silly. These are funny people. John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam. If you didn’t know all of the words to at least one Monty Python sketch, when I was growing up,  you just weren’t cool enough. The Dead Parrot Sketch, The Spanish Inquisition, The Argument, Spam. Or the The Lumber Jack Song.

And then they moved on to movies and the movies were hysterical as well. The Meaning of Life, The Life of Brian etc. But the show will always be the most consistently funny sketch show in television history. I loved Carol Burnett and I loved Kids in the Hall and SNL from the beginning but those shows lost their magic toward the end. Monty Python knew to quit while they were ahead.

Favorite Python: Graham Chapman

#5 Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry

The first one will always be my favorite. It only lasted 3 seasons, just 79 episodes, but that was enough to create a rich and interesting universe to tell countless stories. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones McCoy, Sulu, Scotty, Chekhov & the beautiful Uhura. These were great characters acting cool and heroic in unusual circumstances. Love this show.

“What if I point this Phaser at you?”

Still love this show. I’m so happy that J.J. Abrams decided to bring these characters back.

And I’ve enjoyed every flavor of the show:

The Next Generation – even though it took several years before I allowed myself to watch it.

Deep Space Nine – which I thought was a great departure from the exploration theme and was more like Casablanca in space.

Voyager – which for me was the best of the spin-offs because of the way they were completely cut-off from the Federation yet kept their chain of command & out-smarted or won-over every enemy they came across.

and Enterprise – the prequel that didn’t know what it wanted to be but was still pretty enjoyable.

However the Original Series was the best.

“And what if we all pointed phasers at you?”

No more guns!

Favorite Episode: The City on the Edge of Forever written by Harlan Ellison

“I could have saved her… do you know what you just did?”

“He knows, Doctor. He knows.”

#4 Buffy the Vampire Slayer created by Joss Whedon

This fun, sexy, hip, funny and fucking-fantastic series from Joss Whedon evolved beautifully over 7 seasons and 144 episodes. It even survived a network change, begat a wonderful spin-off called Angel and brought geekdom such iconic geeks as Seth Green, Felicia Day, Alison Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter, Amber Benson, et al.

Infinitely quotable. Always cool. Always funny. And all to the beat of a kick-ass 90’s Alt. soundtrack that I still have in heavy rotation.

Favorite Episodes: Hush & Once More with Feeling

Two completely different and extraordinarily  creative episodes about communication problems suffered by the whole town, written by one of the best dialogue writers on television; Joss Whedon. (His name is a killing word. JOSS!!) Grrr Argh.

#3 The Sopranos created by David Chase

“Woke up this morning. Got yourself a gun.”

Ha. I see what you did there.

One of the best shows in the history of television and one of the most important. This was film quality television. Great cast. Great writing. Fantastic storytelling.

Also one of the best mob tales ever  in 6 seasons & 86 episodes. It was the same organized crime story that we all know by now from the films of Scorsese & Coppola but this time concentrating more on the mobster’s family life, humanizing him and showing his frailties thus making his acts of violence all the more shocking.

And say what you will, I really liked the ending.

Sopranos

“Got yourself a gun. (ah ha) Got yourself a gun.”

Favorite Soprano: Meadow Soprano

Of course.

#2 Battlestar Galactica created by Glen A. Larson and developed by Ronald D. Moore

Deep Space Drama. Post-Apocalyptic Political Intrigue. Inter-Galactic War over 4 seasons and 75 episodes and 2 movies.

With some of the best acting, writing, directing, space battles, beautiful bodies and evil robots on TV.

“This is the last frakking time. I swear.”

A fantastic remake. Fantastic in every way.

#1 The Wire created by David Simon

Over 5 seasons telling a continuous story from 5 different points of view (one for each season) over 60 episodes, about the drug war, drug dealers and the responses to the drug problems in Baltimore’s inner city from users, dealers, distributors, police officers & politicians.

Even though sometimes because of the authenticity and use of real people as performers, the acting suffers slightly, the performances by the professionals and the writing and directing and the realism much more than make up for it.

The Wire is perfect from beginning to end.

EPILOGUE

Shows that will probably make the list when they’re finished.

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Favorite Episode: Blackwater

Fringe (FOX)

Favorite Seasons in Order: 4, 1, 3, 2 Can’t wait to see how they end it in the 5th & final season

Mad Men (AMC)

Favorite Character: Peggy Olson

Doctor Who 2005 (BBCA)

Favorite Episodes: Midnight, Blink, Eleventh Hour, The Doctor’s Wife & A Good Man Goes to War

And that’s the list. I made it through without getting shot. And after 5 mega posts and 50 shows over 3 weeks, if I never see another TV show…

Oh shit I just heard that Joss Whedon is bringing S.H.I.E.L.D to ABC.

“I think his head’s gonna ‘splode.”
“Mm hm.”

Forget everything I was just saying.

Hooray for TV!

– Sloth

Top Ten New Shows (TV Mega Post 4/5)

As a younger TV viewer I learned not to let myself become too attached to new shows. Because most of them don’t last.

OMG! He’s going to talk about new shows. Yaaaay!

The way the axe swings on TV can seem arbitrary & callous and the kinds of shows that I liked: Science Fiction, Action Adventure, Mystery, were hard to maintain because they either had expensive special effects or high-priced actors & writers. And consequently I found that characters with whom I developed a fondness could be gone in one meeting. Or just cancelled on a whim.

“Smile. We’re going to be on Mel’s Top Ten New Shows list.”
“I don’t think I could be more excited than I am.”

Here are ten shows that are coming back for second seasons that I enjoyed watching & hope they come back just as strong.

I noticed after compiling this list that each one of these shows has a female lead. Except for, arguably, Newsroom. And I don’t know what that means but it shows that my tastes have evolved somewhat as has the face of prime-time TV. This is the post Sex and the City television landscape.

Don’t Trust The B in Apt 23 (ABC)

2 Broke Girls (CBS)

Suburgatory (ABC)

These are three kind of silly, kind of girly, colorful shows that are fish out of water tales where the fish is in a skirt.

Don’t Trust the B***** in Apt 23 is a delightful mix of sweet & raunchy. Kristen Ritter’s Bitch, a manipulative socio- & possibly psycho-pathic party girl, is the centerpiece of the sitcom and she shines brightly. Her timing, her delivery, her looks, she’s a fantastic comic actor.

But I think the other characters: their wacky stalker next door neighbor, her best friend; James Van der Biek (played by James himself) and her sweet & innocent roommate (that she tries every week to corrupt), are the true gems that make this a sitcom worth watching. If the producers try too hard to humanize Krysten’s Bitch (I fear that some focus group or some executive somewhere might make them try to give the character a heart) that would kill the show in my opinion.

2 Broke Girls is all about the relationship between… two broke girls. Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs are both likable & beautiful and very funny comic actors. The writing is good. My only problem is sometimes they kill a joke or over-sell a joke with that wacky transition music. But I still love the show and the cast of characters.

Especially their upstairs neighbor played by Jennifer Coolidge and the sexually inappropriate fry cook played by Jonathan Kite. This is old school sitcom goodness like Cheers and Taxi and just as funny.

After two episodes of Suburgatory it seemed to me like a show that was too hip for the room, but it grew on me. The cartoonish upscale community of wacky residents and the high school not just run by the popular kids but where the pretty and the popular are worshiped as gods is such a great setting for the two main characters; a father & daughter from New York City who find themselves in a completely foreign environment and situation.

Every single character and actor portraying their neighbors and friends is spectacular. The best thing about this show is the cast.  The show is amazing because of the great performances. It not only grew on me. I became addicted.

Girls (HBO)

Veep (HBO)

Two HBO half hour comedies that are smartly written.

Girls is a show where the comedy goes over my head… I guess. I don’t even find it that funny. In the first season of this extremely well-written show, I think I laughed out loud maybe three times total. When one of the girls accidentally smokes crack at a massive Brooklyn neighborhood warehouse party, a party that brings all the stories together in one gigantic clusterfuck of funny, I had to pause it to catch my breath it was so funny, but for the most part the comedy is just too smart for one viewing (I’m making that over-the-head hand movement that people make at these times only you can’t see me). I had to watch the shows again and will probably watch them a third time to catch the lines I missed.

Lena Dunham‘s writing and directing is sensational and reminds me a lot of Woody Allen without Woody himself and his trademark delivery, selling the jokes. So it’s not Woody Allen good but it is really really good. However I lived, for a long time, in Brooklyn and… um… there are more people of color… just saying. It’s okay to wanna be Woody Allen, Lena,  just leave some of his more annoying tendencies back in the 70’s.

The joy of HBO’s Veep is watching Julia Louis Dreyfus. She’s carried sitcoms in the past. She totally carried Seinfeld and we didn’t even know. She is so funny and so good. Like a cross between Lucille Ball & Mary Tyler Moore. If she doesn’t win the Emmy for comedy, something has gone wrong with the academy.

She plays the nations first female VP & plays the shit out of the part. Another well-written comedy but this one benefits from a lead actor who can carry a show, has impeccable timing & delivery and looks fantastic in a suit. So good.

Once Upon a Time (ABC)

Smash (NBC)

Revenge (ABC)

Three shows about female adversaries and the depths to which they will sink in order to destroy their rivals.

Once

Once Upon a Time is the story of a town where story book characters have been banished to live in the real world. One of the best and most original ideas of last year. (the copy cat & in my opinion, not as good, Grimm not withstanding) It is fantastic and… I guess the word would be… magical.

Adventurous, romantic, dramatic with very familiar characters in an average setting, if not average circumstances. A healthy helping of Disney heroes & villains populate the town of Storybrooke with a few classic fairy tale folks thrown into the mix. I love this show so much. Great writing. Great cast. And the premise is so interesting, with so many possibilities for stories and characters. It is the best new show of last year.

The thing I loved about NBC’s Smash, the first year of Smash, was witnessing the creation of a new musical. The writing and the creative process were the best parts.

There was some drama with the personal lives of the characters that was hit or miss for me but the musical itself, the development of a musical from start to finish, was a joy to watch.

All of the singers and dancers are amazing. The two lead actresses competing to play Marilyn Monroe are both gorgeous. I love Broadway. I love musicals. I loved Smash. I just don’t know what they can do next.

Revenge

Revenge is so good. (I’m half way through season one) It can be a little cartoony but it is so much fun. I love that the main character played by Emily Van Camp, on this mission of revenge for the death & framing of her father, is basically a more feminine, more subtle and less violent Batman. She’s fucking Batman and I love her.

The show can easily be describe as a guilty pleasure. But I love watching these pretty flawed, pretty evil, pretty fucked-up, pretty people scheming and backstabbing and jumping in and out of bed with each other. Add to that the fact the main character is basically Batman and I’m in. And I know this show will be around for a while and it will probably go down hill after 1 or 2 good seasons but right now, it’s awesome.

The Newsroom (HBO)

Homeland (Showtime)

Both are hour-long political dramas on pay cable, both are political and extremely well-written.

The Newsroom

Newsroom is Aaron Sorkin at his best. It’s a cross between Sports Night and The West Wing. A cable news show whose studio offices are populated by people who speak Sorkin. Incredibly smart, witty, self-effacing, and delightfully biting verbal duelists. I want to work in an office where everyone speaks Sorkin.

The verbal duels are exhilarating. I love Aaron Sorkin’s writing. And I love this show. It can get a little preachy but since I agree with every freaking word. I’m totally fine with it. With a wonderful cast of characters and actors including the beautiful Olivia Munn & Dev Patel, I really hope the show’s politics doesn’t bring about its premature demise.

I guess my only problem with the show is how flawed the characters are and how bad they are with inter-personal relationships. At first I thought it was just the female characters but then came to realize it was all of them, each one of them. They are so smart but so bad with relationships. Still love it though, if for nothing other than the fact that our news media (or what passes for news these days) needs a serious wake up call.

Homeland is an intricate, psychological spy thriller with Clare Danes as a CIA analyst suffering with a mental disability. A disability that also makes her really good at her job of finding patterns in the data to prevent or predict a terrorist attack.

Homeland is another show that I’m completely blank on where they can go. –Mild Spoiler– I found the end of the first season to be tragic and disturbing having seen first hand what “that” can do to someone’s brain.  — End Spoiler–

The acting in the show is top of the line. Clare Danes deserves all of the accolades she’s received & all the awards while Mandy Patinkin can do no wrong. The rest of the cast is good as well including the painfully beautiful Morena Baccarin and Damian Lewis. Can’t wait to see where they go with this.

This concludes my list of new shows. I hope you enjoyed it.

I must say that was a good post and well worth the wait.

Thank you Maggie.

More to come,

– Sloth

Basic Cable Shows (Top Ten TV Mega-Post 3/5)

The difference between Cable shows and Broadcast TV shows are that shows on cable more often keep up their quality throughout. Broadcast shows, with so many more episodes, eventually get watered down or focus grouped to death. The best and most consistent entertainment on television is found on Cable. And these are my top ten favorite Basic Cable shows that I’m watching now.

I’m so boooored. Get to the list already.

My list is limited to shows I’m up to date on. (I’m watching Damages and loving it, but I’m only a couple of episodes in) I don’t like Reality Shows or Game Shows. And there’s a long list of shows I haven’t watched yet. I spent a few years in & out of institutions or on the street without a place to plug-in a TV. So I missed a whole decade’s worth of television. I’m still playing catch-up on shows I saw the hype for but never got to see (like Friends or Seinfeld). (No spoilers… Don’t tell me if Ross & Rachel finally make it work, those crazy kids)

Get to the list, Mel or I swear, this guy gets it.

Let’s get to the list.

Burn Notice (USA)

Leverage (TNT)

These are two action packed shows about talented crews of borderline criminals or secret agents who help real people fight against evil & powerful organizations.

Burn Notice is the story of a CIA agent who gets burned (disavowed so to speak) and can no longer do what he does best. You know, Spy stuff. The underlying story is of him and his cohorts trying to find the people who burned him but every week they use their skills to help someone in need.

The most enjoyable parts of the show are his companions; the beautiful Gabrielle Anwar & the awesome Bruce Campbell, and the authenticity. Jeffrey Donovan’s voice over narrations bring a realism that you don’t get with action shows like these. Usually the heroes seem more like superheroes, but in Burn Notice they show you step by step how they’re able to outsmart their adversaries.

Add that the fight scenes and shootouts are also more authentic than you find in most shows, since Donovan holds a few degrees in martial arts (Karate, Jui-jitsu & Aikido) and the fight choreography involves more real life resolutions and not the one punch knock outs we’re used to on television. This is a refreshing change from your run-of-the-mill action show.

Unlike Burn Notice, on Leverage you get those superheroes and one punch knockouts but, just like Burn Notice, it has a cool and extremely likable cast. Leverage is a lot like the old Mission Impossible show except these guys are completely freelance. Leverage is a show about a bunch of master criminals who defend the little guy against corporations (You see why I love this) With Timothy Hutton & the lovely Gina Belman leading a very capable cast of characters.

It’s a fun series with some pretty cool recurring roles by Star Trek alums Wil Wheaton & Jeri Ryan. A really cool show.

Louie (FX)

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

The Daily Show & Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

I guess just being half hour comedies is all these shows have in common.

Louie, starring Louis CK, is a strange egg. It’s a cross between a sitcom and a Bergman film. Or Martin Scorsese’s After Hours meets Seinfeld. Louis CK is very sweet and very funny and so very awkward in everyday situations but it’s when he runs into one of the many wacky characters that populate his New York City that the show really shines. His easy-going acceptance of weird behavior is amazing and makes this show a must-see.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia also steals a little from Seinfeld in that the main characters are all kind of Dicks. However in Sunny they are in fact the vilest human beings on the planet and it is hysterical. One of the funniest shows I have seen in a long time. These guys are so evil and so callous that they destroy the lives of everyone they come in contact with without batting an eye. A brother & sister and their two best friends open a dive bar in Philly and hilarity ensues. Joined later by the great Danny Devito, this a very funny show.

So it’s like Seinfeld mixed with Cheers mixed with pure unadulterated evil with one of the funniest cast of character actors and writers on television.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart & The Colbert Report are technically two shows but I think of them as one. One full hour of “fake news”. They’re the same show with a slightly different look. And it’s not really FAKE news. It’s a lot more real than the so-called real news. They just use laughter to show how absurd things are in politics and in the world at large.

Jon Stewart helps me digest some of the insanity of public affairs. His shows after 9/11 are legendary and his interviews are insightful. Even though recently he has been obsessed with a forced balance when no balance is possible.

While Colbert (pronounced like -Cole Bare- the T is silent) is the exact opposite. He is an awful interviewer and his persona of the Right Wing blowhard is annoying. But the writing on the Report (the T is silent) is some of the best writing on television. Every year they win Emmys and have Peabody’s for writing an incredibly funny & intelligent show. Even if it makes me cringe sometimes the way he treats his guests.

Justified (FX)

Alphas (SyFy)

And all that these two shows have in common is that they are both bad-ass.

Justified is the story of a U.S. Marshall with a knack for getting into gun battles. If you take Wyatt Earp and drop him in the 21st century you get Timothy Olyphant’s character Raylan Givens on Justified. A high testosterone action drama with great performances and writing. But it’s the coolness, the very bad-ass-ery of the main character that keeps me coming back.

This guy is a bad-ass. In one scene he has a guy on the floor, takes a bullet from his own gun and throws it at the guy then says “The next one will be coming faster.” bad-ass. And he’s also easy on the eyes. Another great thing are the creative gun battles. It’s like a modern western with a dime-store detective novel feel to it. Beautiful. I love this show.

Alphas is a new addition to the list. Another bad-ass show but this one is about a group of meta-humans – read mutants (screw it just call them the fucking X-men). This is what the X-men would look like in a more realistic world.

I’m loving this show. It only has one season under its belt but it is a great season. The second season started this summer and is only a few episodes in but it is just as good if not better. Again it does what ensemble shows do, it makes you fall in love with the characters. They are so flawed yet they have these mutant or heightened senses & powers. It is well-acted and well-written. What the NBC show Heroes wished it had been. (I really hope they bring back my girl Summer Glau as the super techie mutant).

Please don’t screw up this show, SyFy. I will cut you.

Breaking Bad (AMC)

Walking Dead (AMC)

Mad Men (AMC)

AMC is churning out fantastic shows… ’nuff said.

Breaking Bad, the story of a chemistry teacher, diagnosed with cancer, who turns to cooking meth to pay his bills then finds his true calling as a criminal, is riveting. Bryan Cranston is sensational as Walter White. He wins all the awards and he should because he carries a show that really doesn’t need to be carried. A well-written, psychological study of a man losing himself & his mind while slowly destroying or manipulating his friends & family as well as his partners in crime.

When I started watching Breaking Bad on Netflix, I found it hard to get through the first season because I kept screaming at my TV. Screaming about all the things this idiot was doing wrong. But here’s how good this show is; I kept watching. And year after year he got better and better. His evolution and his descent into evil is a joy to watch.

I watch the Walking Dead in the dark. There is no other way to witness the zombie apocalypse. There have only been two seasons. I loved them both. It’s easy to get angry at the characters if they aren’t doing what you might do in their situation, but behaving like an idiot is probably what most people would do when faced with zombies. I love this show because it is genuinely scary. There have been shows that try to be scary and they mostly achieve creepy or suspenseful. Walking Dead is some scary shit for TV. Sure I would love it if the group all became bad-ass zombie killing mofos but that would not be as much fun.

I have never read the graphic novels or the comic book. I don’t know if I want to. I would hate to know what was going to happen. Even though I hear that it differs from the source material a bunch of the time. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

And now a word about casting children in TV dramas. Children grow up. They grow up fast. Unless you skip forward several years between seasons like Mad Men or if you write in a time warp like Lost, you guys are going to have to re-cast the part. You heard me right. I would rather have shows re-cast the part than use the same young actor, a lot taller, a lot older, a day later and no way to explain it. (This season the part of the 7-year-old boy will be played by a 7-year-old boy and not the now 10-year-old actor from last season) But, come on TV producers “The kid needs a shave!” There are enough child actors to fill the part every season… just a thought.

Mad Men is, in my opinion, the best show on TV at the moment. Great dialogue, great acting, a beautiful cast and a wardrobe department that needs to win more awards. But my favorite thing about Mad Men are the female characters.

I love the way the show writes women and writes for women. Because it’s a period show, starting in the 50’s and now approaching the 70’s, it has to take pains to reach beyond the social problems of each era and it does that in the development of the women on the show. They are more than the time in which they are living even as the time-period is the real star of the show. The smoking, the drinking, the racial tensions, the sexual revolution all seem to take center stage sometimes. But the depth of the women, still a rarity now-a-days, is it’s substance.

Mad Men is a fantastic show.

Whew. That was a big one.

I’ll be back with a list of the best new shows from last year.

No. Really. Would I lie to you?

Don’t answer that.

– Sloth

Animated Shows (TV Mega Post 2/5)

I’ve been a fan of cartoons since I was a child (we called animated shows; cartoons back in the dark ages).

We lived at the base of a hill, when I was a kid. So we didn’t get good TV reception (TV’s used antennae back then). Which was fine most of the time but not on Saturday morning. So, bright and early Saturday, I would hike up the hill to my neighbor’s house and watch Saturday morning cartoons on his TV. (and I really couldn’t stand the guy)

I loved Speed Racer, Battle of the Planets (or Gatchaman) & The Flintstones. Did you know that The Flintstones were originally a primetime animated series for adults? A genre that didn’t catch on until The Simpsons did it again in the 80’s. On my list of top ten animated series, only three of them would be considered suitable for kids.

To the list!

First, the kid stuff.

The Legend of Korra (Nickolodeon)

Tron Uprising  (Disney)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network)

All three of these animated series continue stories from established universes.

The Legend of Korra picks up where The Last Airbender leaves off.

If you haven’t seen The Last Airbender, it’s not required viewing to understand Korra but what it does is set up the basic rules of that universe: The importance of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) and the benders who have mastered control of the elements including the Avatar, the mythic bending master who has the ability to control all four elements.

This is a fun series with epic battles that remind me a bit of the battle mechanic in Magic:The Gathering in the way that different elements have strengths and weaknesses against others. I also like the way Korra continues the evolution of the talent; And how fire benders can master lightning and earth benders learn to bend metal, etc. Very smart very entertaining series.

Tron Uprising continues the Tron story with a new hero picking up the mantle of “savior of  the computer world” and it features fantastic voice acting from Elijah Wood, Mandy Moore, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Bruce Boxleitner & many others.

I was never a big fan of the original Tron film. Even less of the new movie. The games from the original movie never interested me because they never seemed like very much fun. A story about being pulled into a video game world should have better games. So I was never invested in it. I liked the light cycles but even they had serious flaws with the “creating light walls” thing.

But Tron Uprising is more than just about programs surviving the games. It is the story of a rebellious program in the computer world. It asks the question of whether one man (one program) can make a difference and become a symbol to help free the world from its oppressors. It’s a great story. With good writing and sweet performances. I hope it sticks around.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars takes place in the space between Episode 2 and Episode 3 of the Star Wars Saga. Sadly it suffers from the fact that we all know how the war ends. But it is still a beautiful backdrop for a bunch of exciting stories that take place in the Star Wars universe during the war.

As a huge fan of Star Wars I was sorely disappointed by the prequels. The only story I wanted to see was Luke’s father fighting in the clone wars and the early relationship between Anakin & Obi Wan.  Two things that are glossed over in the movies in favor of a forced & awkward romance and an incredibly contrived political drama where the bad guys win. (I could have done without the rest of that crap)

In the last movie released of the Star Wars Saga the bad guys win… prequel my ass-fuck you George Lucas. (sorry about that. I have a lot of anger left over from Phantom Menace)

The Clone Wars Series is better than all three of the prequels. Better writing better stories better acting. Clone wars is a fun series.

Ugly Americans (Comedy Central)

Futurama (Comedy Central)
Both shows are set in a future society where monsters, aliens, robots & mutants roam the earth, living side by side with humans.

In Ugly Americans the world has become a nightmarish/cartoonish hellscape as monsters integrate with society. Like HBO’s True Blood to the extreme and funny as hell.

The main character Mark Lilly is a social worker who helps non-humans integrate smoothly into society. He is calm & centered in the midst of chaos. He is a lot like a Bodhisattva in hell. Working for a demon & dating another (half demon), the very funny Natasha Leggero, he tries to balance his work, private life and home life with his roommate, a zombie american, voiced by Kurt Metzger.

The show is funny if maybe a little preachy at times.

 

In Futurama the world, of 1000 years in the future, is populated by robots, aliens & mutants along with the humans (and the occasional human head in a jar [most notably President Nixon’s head as president of Earth]).

Fry, a delivery boy from our time, is frozen and wakes in that future to find that he is still a delivery boy. Futurama is so so funny & oh so nerdy. Its science & technology jokes are hysterical even when they go over my head. With Star Trek guest appearances & sci fi references, the show is a must watch for science & sci fi geeks alike.

The Venture Bros. (Adult Swim)

Archer (FX)

The Boondocks (Adult Swim)

Three of the funniest shows on TV with mature themes, mature language and violence, in the style of the old Saturday Morning Cartoons.

the Venture Bros tells the story of two brothers, third generation adventurers with no discernible skills (or courage). It also shows, amusingly, what happens to the stars of the old Saturday morning adventure cartoons after they have past their prime.

It includes a rogues gallery of enemies that “Arch” the heroes according to the rules of the Guild of Calamitous Intent with the old grudges and epic battles and master plans taking center stage.

The Venture Bros has some of the best writing on television. And features one of the best line-ups of talented voice actors with, James Urbaniak, Patrick Warburton & the always hysterical Dana Snyder. So fucking funny.

Archer is a super spy who works for his mother’s spy agency (played by Jessica Walters) along with his ex-girlfriend, a bad-ass rival spy at the agency (played by the awesome, beautiful, talented & deliciously dorky Aisha Tyler) , and a motley crew of co-workers with serious psychological & behavioral problems. Every character is genuinely, epic-ly funny and voiced by some of the funniest voice actors on the planet.

H. Jon Benjamin
Judy Greer
Amber Nash
Chris Parnell

“You better say that I steal the show.”

… um but Aisha’s Lana Kane steals the show.

 

Boondocks is a tale of two young brothers, (with sweet kung fu skills) one a radical rebel & political activist with a samurai sword, the other a wanna be gangsta & rapper with an arsenal of weapons, and the shenanigans that they get themselves into.

They relocate, along with their granddad, to an upscale neighborhood and have to adapt to their new surroundings.

But by far the best thing about the series is the outrageous and extremely offensive recurring characters like Uncle Ruckus, their self hating, racist, elderly, black neighbor, (When the Freeman’s move in he sits on his porch and sings a song called “Don’t trust them new niggers over there” that is priceless).

And a ridiculous Pimp called, A Pimp Named Slickback  (You have to say the whole thing like A Tribe Called Quest),

He is played  by the outrageously funny Katt Williams.

The show can be overly political at times and is merciless when it comes to lampooning black stereotypes & racism but it is always funny always very cool and just plain awesome.

Southpark (Comedy Central)

Family Guy (FOX)

I love both of these shows. They are two of the best things on television.

Both have been known at times to cross the line of decency but are never just not funny. Both shows can cross over into uncomfortable territory and no matter what your threshold of personal comfort, these shows will find your button, push the damn thing & force you to laugh uncomfortably at yourself. I love that.

Art needs more of this.

I also love that these two camps don’t get along and often insult each other on their shows.

Southpark & Family Guy are two of the most crass shows ever.

But they take the complicated problems of politics & religion and society & humanity and they drag them down to the level of toilet humor in some of the most ingenious ways.  (One of the recurring characters on Southpark is a lump of feces)

Both of these shows make me laugh so hard I am often in pain by the end the show.

Matt Stone & Trey Parker (the creators of Southpark) are masters of using the basest humor to define the highest concepts with respect. Like Mr Hanky, the Christmas Poo (the feces character) explaining the true meaning of Christmas.

And Seth McFarlane (creator of Family Guy)  himself has no fear of subject or political correctness. He will sometimes take a joke past the point where it stops being funny, through the period where it’s no longer funny, to a point where it’s even funnier. Fearless.

These shows are funny as fuck and I can’t describe how genius their creators & writers are because I don’t have the words.

I like my art to make me feel uncomfortable. And these are two of the best shows in the history of television at doing just that (and at the same time making me pee my pants).

That’s all for now.

And I know I promised a list of New Shows this time but I guess I lied.

New Shows next time! …maybe.

You suck at blogging.

Shut up, Stewie or I’ll sic Lana Kane on you.

(Now there’s a battle I want to see)

– Sloth