Best of the Blog 2014

2014 was a very good year for movies, a very good year for TV, and a very good year for me (writing and health wise. I finished my first draft and started my second). To recap this past year on the blog, I will post links to my favorite posts from my favorite blogger… ME.

Yep. That’s right. It’s a clip show. Everybody’s doing them, so why shouldn’t I.

Henry V

“Honoring yourself, my lord, it’s like watching you masturbate.”

When I started this blog, back in 2011, all the experts said that I should streamline it down to one specific theme. Find my audience, so to speak.They also said to post on a set schedule. But as always I said screw all that and did whatever the hell I wanted to do.

I can’t live by your rules, man!

Instead Mel Rook & the 7 Deadly Sins has become a place to post whatever I like when I like. And if that’s not what the experts like. Screw them. They don’t read my blog.

I promise to give you guys more of what YOU like.

The Flash

“And what exactly is THAT?”

Maybe you want more poetry and more short stories. I promise those will return in the new year. I plan to post the first chapter of my book online but only for the people who want to read it. (Soon as I figure out how to password protect it and then I’ll just give out the password to anyone who wants to read it)

Maybe you want more photos from around the block. I promise to get outside more in 2015, possibly even out of my neighborhood (I haven’t been to Brooklyn in a while). More photos in 2015. (I know I said that last year but this year I mean it)

Some people like my autobiographical musings, the more personal stuff. And you should know I will always find ways to reveal too much information about myself in the most fun ways possible. But only if it’s creatively interesting. This isn’t a diary.

But rest assured, there will be tons of TV reviews and loads of movie reviews and ton-loads of DVD reviews …and music …and trailers …and surprises and all of that. So…


(Or at least that’s the plan)


But here are my top five favorite posts by me from 2014. with my top ten personal faves marked… so it’s a top five in each category and a top ten at the same time. (So yes. Once again, I’m trying to please everyone)

I hope you enjoy it.

To the list…

First up…

The Movies:



2014 was a fantastic year for movies but I didn’t get out to the theater as much as I wanted. The experts say, (those guys again) that if I want to review movies, I should do them one at a time and include a plot synopsis and all that stuff. But again I said screw that. I’ll do them 5…6…7 at a time and make them quick and painless. You want to know the plot, rent the movie… go to Wikipedia.

I can’t live by your rules, man!

Best Picture 2013 Part 1 (PERSONAL FAVE)

American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, Her

6 Quick Reviews of 6 DVD Releases in June

The Machine, Non-Stop, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The LEGO Movie, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

5 Quick Reviews of 5 DVD in July (and One Rant) (PERSONAL FAVE)

A Million Ways to Die in the West, Winter’s Tale, Bad Words, The Raid 2, Transcendence, Jodorowsky’s Dune

5 Quick Reviews in September (The Return of the Quick Review) 

Godzilla, The Fault in Our Stars, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Neighbors, The Signal, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Snowpiercer

5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for December 2014 (PERSONAL FAVE)

Frank, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Maze Runner, This is Where I Leave You, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Next up…

Television Shows:

Bob Odenkirk and Alison Tolman

“This whole thing is just a little self-indulgent. Dontcha know.”

At the start of 2014 I took on a monumental task; to list 100 worthy TV shows in ten categories. I called it My Top Ten TV Mega Post in Ten Parts. It’s still going on. And once again I found it hard to stick to the rules (even the ones I set for myself).

And here I couldn’t just pick five. So I listed them all.

I can’t live by my own rules, man… um… Mel

TV Mega Post Part 1 (New Shows)

This was the first one. Not the best list but a bunch of these shows turned out to be amazing. I’m proud of it.

TV Mega Post Part 2 (Imports)

TV Mega Post Part 3 (Cable Comedies & Cartoons)

TV Mega Post Part 4 (Premium Comedies)

TV Mega Post Part 5 (What The Hell Happened to the Sitcom?) (PERSONAL FAVE)

This became a rant about TV sitcoms when three of my favorites were cancelled right before I posted it.

TV Mega Post Part 6 (Variety Shows)

I posted this a few days before Joan Rivers died and didn’t have the heart to edit it.

TV Mega Post Part 7 (Broadcast Dramas) (PERSONAL FAVE)

TV Mega Post Part 8 (Cable Dramas)

The last two installments are coming soon. I promise.


Poetry, Personal and Miscellaneous:


I really need to update my computer.

Again those experts are fond of saying that I should not reveal too much about myself and about my personal life. That somehow I should be ashamed. Well of course I’m ashamed. I’m a shameful dude. I’m embarrassed by how often I use the word dude. But sitting quietly in my shame does no one any good. So, if posting about my life makes just one person feel better while making five thousand other people embarrassed for me… it was all worth it. And I can do my happy dance. So once again I say to the experts…

I can’t live by your rules, man!

The Littlest Psychopath (PERSONAL FAVE)

I like this story. It’s a condensed, somewhat fictionalized version of the author’s childhood. I cry every time I read it. I can’t wait for the sequel.

7 Times a Movie Saved My Life (PERSONAL FAVE)

I really like movies and when I realized that there was a movie at the center of most of my major life decisions, changes and memories. I had to share them.

The Wind and The Water (for Maya)

A poem for Maya Angelou

What She Said

A poem for a former friend

Top Ten Bisexual TV Characters (PERSONAL FAVE)

Not really a TV post but a fun list of my favorite Bisexual TV characters. But since I posted it, early this year, the list has grown. I smell a sequel.

And lastly…

Photos from Around the Block:

Simpson's Clouds The Siiimpsonnnns

Simpson’s Clouds
The Siiimpsonnnns

Looking at these dates, it seems like Photos from Around the Block is a summer job. I didn’t get out of the house much this year. I did a lot of writing. I moved my treadmill into the living room. So I still did a lot of walking. I just didn’t go anywhere. But if I made New Year’s resolutions (I don’t), mine would be to get out of the house at least once a week in 2015. I know that doesn’t sound like much but I can go months without seeing the sun.

I declare 2015 will be the year of the sun.

The Return of the Photos from Around the Block May 4

Down at the Park

Down at the Park



This one was my personal favorite from today

This was my favorite from this year.


Slight Return July 20

This sign doesn't work at all.

This sign doesn’t work at all.


The Walking Returns August 6




The Return of the More August 19 (PERSONAL FAVE)

Reflections 1


And that my friends is the best of the blog for 2014.

It has been a pleasure to share the things in my head and my heart with all of you.

Have a happy and prosperous new year everyone.

– Mel


5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for December 2014

Welcome to the last 5 Quick Reviews of the year. And this one features an eclectic bunch of films. Comedy, Drama, Sci-fi. Some weird and some wonderful.

“Wait. I’ve gotta get a picture of this. Mel’s gonna review DVD’s again. How interesting.”

These movies go down better with a bit of what Saruman calls the Halfling’s Leaf. If you know what I mean. Wink wink. Nudge nudge. Say no more. Say no more.

Frank Rehearsal

“I love you all. Even if you do smoke too much weeeeed. I love you all.

“If you don’t know what I’m saying. I’m talking about pot, marijuana, ganja. If it’s not legal where you live, it should be (or soon will be). And all of these movies are better if you watch them while stoned. Okay?

"Are you saying that you want to smoke a joint?"

“Are you saying that you want to smoke a joint with me?”

What I’m really saying is well… I’m saying you’re a pothead. Just kidding. It’s not you it’s me. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. (Just add the word medicinally at the end. It’s just like allegedly but for pot)

I Am Groot


Don’t worry Groot. We won’t be smoking anyone you know, big guy. Or is that your way of saying that you want a hit before we put it out? I never know what the hell you’re saying…. anyway.

Here are my 5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for December.

Groot Fireflies

I am Groot.

I’m so fucking high right now.

To the reviews…

First up something too strange for words.

Frank (Magnolia Pictures [US], Element Pictures [Ireland])

Frank Poster

Directed by  Lenny Abrahamson

Written by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan  Based on “Oh blimey!” by Jon Ronson

Starring Domhnall GleesonMaggie GyllenhaalScoot McNairy & Michael Fassbender

Frank is a weird, strange movie. About a weird, strange and heart-breakingly fragile man. It is not meant to be a mainstream movie. Frank is a movie that is satisfied in its weirdness and in its indie status. It revels in it.

Frank on Stage

“I feel a tired and over-stretched analogy coming on.”

And just because it sticks to its independence, it doesn’t make it better than the popular films. Nor does it make it worse than mainstream movies. It’s just doing its own thing.

Maggie Gyllenhall and Frank

“This movie is kinda weird, though. Right?” “Yes. Yes it is.”

Frank is about an eclectic band of talented misfit musicians led by the king of the misfits; a man who never removes his large fake head. His name is Frank.

Frank on Guitar

“He’s got the whoooole wo-rld in his head… everybody! He’s got the…”

Frank is a wonderful movie but as it revels in its eccentricity, it alienates its audience. Keeping us at arms length. Making us feel like we’re not quite hip enough for the room.

Frank and The Band

“On the count of three, we all drop acid and watch Frank. 1…2… changed my mind!”

And much like Frank’s band in the film, I don’t think we’re meant to like Frank. And it almost feels like the director doesn’t care if we do. But we are meant to like Frank himself. And we do. Making the whole exercise oddly and refreshingly entertaining.

Rent it

Next one of the best movies of 2014.

Guardians of the Galaxy (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)


Directed by James Gunn

Written by James Gunn & Nicole Perlman  Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Starring Chris PrattZoe SaldanaDave BautistaVin DieselBradley CooperLee PaceMichael RookerKaren GillanDjimon HounsouJohn C. ReillyGlenn Close & Benicio del Toro

Guardians of the Galaxy opens with one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of a young boy losing his mother to cancer. And continues as the story of that boy being kidnapped and raised by criminals… in space. It is a comedy.

Star Lord

“Oh man. That sounds cool. Is that what this movie is about?”

He goes on to run away from the abusive criminals and become an outlaw in his own right. Because that’s all he knows. He has no family and no friends and only a cassette of his mother’s favorite songs to keep him company. It is a comedy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket

“Didn’t Mel already review this thing when it came out? What is he doing?”

But then he befriends other criminals, loners, thieves and killers to form a new foster family of misfits and outlaws. And they go on to save the whole fucking galaxy.

Guardians Gif

“That’s right. We bad.”

Guardians of the Galaxy is the most depressingly touching yet hysterically fun movie I have ever seen. I will own it on BluRay. It’s already on my Christmas list.

Buy it

Next a sci-fi action teen angst adventure sorta?

The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox)

The Maze Runner

Directed by Wes Ball

Written by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin  Based on The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Starring Dylan O’BrienKaya ScodelarioThomas Brodie-SangsterWill Poulter & Patricia Clarkson

The Maze Runner has its moments but they are few and far between. The mystery is more made for TV than film. With enough episodes to peel away each layer of the back story, I could see liking this tale of kids who wake up trapped in the center of a deadly maze with their memories erased being hunted by half spider, half robot creatures.


“I don’t like spam!!”

The Maze Runner, however, is not a good movie but it is interesting. So maybe (once again) I needed to read the book first. (And the moral of the story is read the damn book)

The Maze Runner

“Run away! He’s gonna hate us! Run away!”

I was not intrigued by the mystery in this film version. I didn’t identify with any of the two-dimensional characters. And it wasn’t helped by the young actors’ bland portrayals.

The Maze Runner Elevator

“That’s harsh, dude.”

All the characters have lost their memories (And isn’t that a convenient way to not have to create any real emotional depth). Don’t get me wrong, lost memory stories can be fun, as we discover the characters’ pasts and as they discover themselves. This ain’t that.

"You're just made the list, buddy. M-E-L um R-O..."

“You just made the list, buddy. M-E-L um R-O…”

This lazy writing is more fitting of a dungeon master’s self-made module of an adventure RPG. Get your graph paper out but make sure you write in pencil. The dungeon changes shape every night. In conclusion, The Maze Runner is a stupid movie.

Skip it

Next a dramedy…

This is Where I Leave You (Warner Bros.)

This is Where I Leave You

Directed by Shawn Levy

Written by Jonathan Tropper  Based on This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Starring Jason BatemanTina FeyAdam DriverRose ByrneCorey StollKathryn HahnConnie BrittonTimothy OlyphantDax Shepard & Jane Fonda

This Is Where I Leave You has an amazing cast of some of my favorite comedic actors but this is not a comedy. It is a well-written family drama with a few big laughs thrown in but it’s a pretty solid drama. And a very good movie with some fine performances.

Jane Fonda and Jason Bateman

“All his favorite people in one movie. He’s gonna love us.” “Hope you’re right.”

It’s got a good script based on the author’s novel with a director who seems fine with just getting out of the way and letting this talented cast do their thing. And they shine.

Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Ben Schwartz

“Say you liked our movie or I twist his other one.” “Say you liked it! I’m in the new Star Wars!”

Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Timothy Olyphant, Rose Byrne and Ben Schwartz. This Is Where I Leave You boasts a collection of my favorite people in a fascinating and funny, family baggage-airing drama. And I liked it.

Debra Monk, Kathryn Hahn and Connie Britton

“Aww. He liked it.”

It’s not for everyone. And it’s not a comedy. Also, the only action in the film is when a secret is revealed and maybe a small fight breaks out. This is a straight drama about a family reuniting for the patriarch’s funeral and about the airing of grievances.

This is where I leave you Cast

“Well that doesn’t sound funny at all.”

It is still pretty damn good. And still pretty damn funny.

Rent it

And lastly…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (Paramount Pictures)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Written by Josh AppelbaumAndré Nemec and  Evan Daugherty  Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman

Starring Megan FoxWill Arnett & William Fichtner

I expected this movie to be so bad that it had nowhere to go but up. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a better movie than I thought it would be. It’s kinda sorta fun.

"I have to take a picture of Mel liking the Ninja Turtles movie. It's like seeing The Loch Ness Monster."

“I have to take a picture of Mel liking the Ninja Turtles movie. It’s like seeing Bigfoot.”

Don’t get me wrong, it is still a bad movie based on a bad comic book title that was mostly just a childish insult (called a dis in my day) to the popular books of the time. X-Men and Teen Titans (with maybe a little Howard the Duck thrown in for good measure).


“I know Bigfoot personally. I could introduce you.”

It was a dumb comic, but then it became a dumb cartoon and now some dumb movies. And soon a dumb but financially successful franchise. I am not a fan.


“He doesn’t know Bigfoot. But I do. He has an apartment near here.”

However, this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is enjoyable. The turtles aren’t as annoying as I thought they’d be. Megan Fox is decent and the plot is not stupid. I can’t say I liked it because I am opposed to it from its inception and conception with no exception. Period.

Megan Fox and Will Arnett

“Remember when the captions were funny? Now he’s talking Bigfoot.” “I think he really is high.”

But the movie is not that bad… and if you’re high when you watch it, it’s enjoyable.

Rent it

So to recap…

We had two films about groups forced to work together to remember their pasts; The Maze Runner and This Is Where I Leave You, But this is where their similarities end. One features emotionally immature characters forced to navigate a labyrinth of traps, tricks and pitfalls in order to get out alive and the other one is… The Maze Runner.

We had two films based on less-than-main-stream comic book titles; Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, But this is where their similarities end. One is about a group of kick-ass, immature, constantly bickering heroes trying to save everyone from evil and the other one is… god damn it.

And we had one film about a guy who hides his face from the world; Frank, I also do that. Hide myself from the world. But this is where our similarities end. Because while Frank likes to play music with his friends and loves you all…

I, on the other hand, like to play music with my friends but only love some of you… okay most of you… alright damn it, you win. I love you all.

Awesome Mix

Cue the music.

See you guys at the movies,

– Mel

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies… is MOSTLY Filler

Just got back from the mostly empty theater where I saw the mostly empty third movie in the Hobbit (cough) trilogy. Frankly, it was not worth the train-fare.

The Hobbit

The pacing of the final film is slowed by weird dream sequences and extra-long intense and uncomfortable glances between the characters during what is ostensibly one long battle that lasts the whole movie. And just like in the other two movies, I was aware of the clock the entire time.

There is the obligatory Peter Jackson triple ending. You know, where the movie ends and then ends again and then ends one more time, for good measure. And even though I expected this, after a movie that was essentially an hour and a half of FILLER scenes, it only served to annoy me more.

Хоббит: Битва пяти воинств

The first two films of the Hobbit (extra long expanded trilogy edition) suffered from too many comic asides and drawn out effects shots, but the final film was mostly just that stuff. It felt empty and hollow. So much so that even the death of a major character, which is usually a moment that pauses the action and slows the film for emotional effect, seemed like just another pause in the action, destroying any real emotional impact.

Gandalf and Galdriel

Way to screw up a good story, guys. But I loved the creatures though. All of the different kinds of mounts in the movie reminded me of World of Warcraft. Not just horses, wargs and eagles but giant stags, boar and goats. I loved the creatures that the armies are riding. And of course Smaug is gorgeous. The creatures were my favorite part by far.

The Elves

And I was pleased that they kept the roller coaster ride scene, this one a fight between Legolas and one of the boss Orcs on a crumbling bridge, shorter than An Unexpected Journey’s Goblin mine car ride and The Desolation of Smaug’s Elvish barrel water park ride; two exciting scenes but both seemed more suited for a Spielberg kids movie or an IMAX adventure. This one was shorter. So there’s that.

This guy

But now I challenge the film-makers to edit The Hobbit (cough) trilogy down to one enjoyable and action-packed three-hour film. What it should have been in the first place. I own the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Extended Edition of that trilogy but I don’t even want this one. I can’t even imagine me wanting to sit through this again. And I watch the Lord of the Rings at least once a year. I love that shit.

The Dwarves

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a waste of time and a waste of money, an insult to one of the best and most accessible fantasy novels of all time, and an outrageous greed-induced time and money-grab. Honestly, Bilbo could have had a bright shining red & white Coca Cola machine in the middle of Bag End and it would have seemed less like begging for more cash.

The Battle of the Five Armies

So in conclusion, the best thing I can say about The Battle of the Five Armies is that the fight between the Ring-wraiths and the Wizards was AWESOME. But the best thing I can say about The Hobbit (cough) trilogy is: “At least it’s over.”

– Mel

Cable Dramas: Top Ten TV Mega Post Part Eight (8/10)

While going through the list of my favorite Cable Dramas I noticed something.

Cable TV Dramas are polluting our society by putting supposedly good characters in extraordinary situations, where they are forced to do bad things (for the record, no one can be forced to do bad but according to these eleven shows it’s a requirement), Where surrendering themselves to their darker nature makes them stronger and helps them survive. They are the hero. But they learn time and time again that being the good guy not only goes unrewarded but is often punished. Cable dramas, well the good ones anyway, are helping to mold this new storytelling morality where the good guy, the hero, the savior, the leader, the main character… is kind of a dick.

Martin Freeman

We’re coming down the home stretch of my Top Ten TV Mega Post in Ten Parts for 2014 with Cable Dramas. There are a bunch of well-written dramas on cable these days. So many that it was hard to narrow down my list to just ten. (I ended up with eleven)

Cable TV Dramas, for the most part, are a spectacular hit or a tremendous miss. They are either very good or very bad. AMC and FX know how to make a good cable drama it seems, because nearly all of these shows are from those two networks. Most of the other channels are trying to make broadcast quality dramas without broadcast quality money.

The Board

As always, it starts with writing. Good writers are a must. A good writer can turn a show with three sets, two props and one location into an epic. And again, a lot of American cable channels try to make dramas that are broadcast quality camp but without broadcast TV budgets. So the wardrobes aren’t as good and the actors aren’t as pretty. The sets, the effects, pale in comparison. So there is very little of substance without good writing.

Good writing needs no sets and no props and no effects. And what AMC is doing right, and what FX is doing right, is to start with great stories and talented writers. These are the best shows on TV …for which you don’t have to pay a premium.


Bring on the bad guys.

To the list…

American Horror Story (FX)

American Horror Story

Created by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk

Starring Connie BrittonDylan McDermottEvan PetersTaissa FarmigaDenis O’HareJessica LangeZachary QuintoJoseph FiennesSarah PaulsonLily RabeLizzie BrocheréJames CromwellFrances ConroyEmma RobertsKathy BatesMichael ChiklisFinn Wittrock & Angela Bassett

American Horror Story is fantastic every year. And except for the core cast of wonderful character actors, that includes Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson and Frances Conroy bringing their best to some of the weirdest characters on TV, it is completely different every year. There’s a different setting, a different theme and different genres of American Horror used to creep and scare the shit out of its audience.

Freak Show

I’ve heard it said that this season of Horror Story (called Freak Show) has been the weakest. I admit, the freak show thing is sort of lame and it also makes me uncomfortable. But the Killer Clown is one of the scariest things ever on the show. And anyway, clowns are fucking scary in general.

Scary Clown

But the scariest thing this season is when the characters start to sing. Ryan Murphy created the musical show Glee and he has brought the horror of this pop music, musical theater monstrosity to American Horror Story.

Two Headed Sarah Paulson

That’s some scary shit, Ryan. Truly frightening.

Bates Motel (A&E)

Bates Motel

Based on Characters from Psycho by Robert Bloch

Developed by Carlton CuseKerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano

Starring Vera FarmigaFreddie HighmoreMax ThieriotOlivia CookeNicola Peltz & Nestor Carbonell

Vera Farmiga. Vera Farmiga. Vera Farmiga.

At the Bates Motel

Norma Bates is the scariest and sweetest character on TV. Heart-breaking-ly insane. Vera Farmiga’s portrayal is amazing. Where is her Emmy? She is incredibly good.

The Bates

I love this show because it holds true to the feel of the film. And it offers other characters and other situations and other things going on besides the adventures of Norman and his crazy, smothering, over-protective, pathological, borderline psychotic mother.

Norman and Norma

But mostly I love this show because Vera Farmiga is scary good.

Fargo (FX)


Created by Noah Hawley

Based on Fargo by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Starring Billy Bob ThorntonAllison TolmanColin Hanks & Martin Freeman

The first season of this FX crime – comedy – drama – thingy was sensational. With a wonderful cast of characters and writing and situations and Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman. I loved this show.


The Fargo TV series takes place in the same general area as the Coen Brother’s film and in the same world. That same, ultra dark but still comedic and absurd, world. And I loved it.

Billy Bob

Rumors about a second season sound extremely promising (even though it doesn’t bring back the great cast from the first season because it’s a prequel set in 1979). I’m looking forward to see what they do next (even though I’ll miss Allison Tolman. She was perfect)

Allison Tolman

And it’s the one show on this list where the good guy is a good guy. (well girl in this case but you know what I mean).

However, even though I absolutely loved Fargo, it was just my second favorite new show from this year. Taking a close second place, right after the spectacular…

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)

Halt and Catch Fire

Created by Christopher Cantwell & Christopher C. Rogers

Starring Lee PaceScoot McNairyMackenzie DavisKerry Bishé & Toby Huss

Halt and Catch Fire is my pick for the best new show of 2014.

Our Heroes

An incredible cast. Great stories. Great writing. And also another sexy bisexual character to add to my list (played by the beautiful Lee Pace). One of the sexiest bisexual characters on TV. I love Halt and Catch Fire so much.

Lee Pace

Halt and Catch Fire is the story of the early days of the personal computer. I love the subject. It’s the story of a small company trying to compete with the big boys. I love an underdog story. Lee Pace plays this marketing whiz. This amazing salesman who knows very little about computers but has a passion that makes him not accept failure. And a management style that takes no prisoners and leaves no survivors. Throw in this brilliant software designer and a troubled hardware guy on the verge of losing his mind and you have hands-down the best new show of 2014.

Scott McNairy

Halt and Catch Fire is a fine replacement for the departing Mad Men. If you haven’t yet, give it a chance. And if you bailed on it give it another chance. It’s quality television.

Halt and Catch Fire AMC

Next up… a couple of westerns still going strong.

Hell on Wheels (AMC)

Hell on Wheels

Created by Joe Gayton & Tony Gayton

Starring Anson MountColm MeaneyCommonDominique McElligottTom NoonanEddie SpearsBen EslerPhil BurkeChristopher HeyerdahlRobin McLeavyKasha Kropinski, Dohn Norwood, Jennifer FerrinChelah HorsdalMacKenzie Porter, Tayden Marks & Jake Weber

Hell on Wheels is so weird. And so dark. But so good.

Hell on Wheels

Anson Mount is wonderful as the anti-hero, gunslinger. The southern, slave-owning, mass murdering, racist with a code of honor. And his evolution is a joy to watch, as he struggles to be the first to build a railroad to the west and justify all the friends and lives lost along the way. A railroad that leaves piles of bodies in its wake.


This past season was one of the darkest on the show. They take the HELL in their title very seriously. Life is cheap in the untamed west.

One Less Every Day

Hell on Wheels is fucked-up sometimes because no one is safe and people are dropping like flies. But it is so good. It’s really good.

Justified (FX)


Based on  “Fire in the Hole” by Elmore Leonard

Developed by Graham Yost

Starring Timothy OlyphantNick SearcyJoelle CarterJacob PittsErica TazelNatalie ZeaWalton Goggins & Jere Burns

With this upcoming season being the last for this modern western, I will miss this show greatly. The sheer badassness of Justified is its beauty. And also its main selling point. It is a study in badassitude. I love this show.

Boyd and Raylan

Timothy Olyphant is Olyphant-tastic. I love the way his superiors try to get him, as a U.S. Deputy Marshal, to stop killing so many people, and he tries. But he comes from a criminal family. His friends. His neighbors. All criminals. They keep pulling him back in.


I love these characters. Boyd, Ava, Raylan, the other Marshals. I’m going to miss them.

Ava and Boyd

But not half as much as I’m going to miss these next guys…

Mad Men (AMC)

Mad Men

Created by Matthew Weiner

Starring Jon HammElisabeth MossVincent KartheiserJanuary JonesChristina HendricksJared HarrisBryan BattMichael GladisAaron StatonRich SommerMaggie SiffKiernan ShipkaJessica ParéKevin RahmChristopher StanleyJay R. FergusonBen FeldmanMason Vale CottonRobert Morse & John Slattery

Another show on its last season, Mad Men is one of the best scripted shows in TV history. And this last season has been just as good as the first.

Mad Men

It hasn’t lost a step. The show about the Advertising business, and the con man who lied his way into a partnership in one of Madison Avenue’s top agencies, has an amazing and beautiful cast, incredible writing. And every episode is exceptionally well-directed. And don’t get me started on the wardrobes. Their costume designers are the best!!!

My God The Colors

Mad Men is leaving on top as one of the best shows of all-time.

Licking Peggy

Peggy. Peggy. Peggy. I don’t know why but I just want to lick her.

The Americans (FX)


Created by Joe Weisberg

Starring Keri RussellMatthew RhysMaximiliano HernándezHolly Taylor, Keidrich Sellati, Noah EmmerichAnnet MahendruSusan Misner & Alison Wright

Only on its third season, The Americans is an insanely good look at undercover Russian operatives living as American citizens. Again, from our point of view, they’re the bad guys.

The Americans

But the show makes you root for them and then sneakily reminds you that they are in fact the bad guys by having them do… you know what, you have to watch it.

The Fake American Real Family

If you’re not watching this show I question your choices. Because this show is outstanding. The Americans is a sexy, espionage, family, spy, thriller that gets better every season. The cast is sensational.

Keri Russell

Keri Russell is at the top of her game. Watch this show.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead

Based on The Walking Dead by Robert KirkmanTony Moore and Charlie Adlard

Developed by Frank Darabont

Starring Andrew LincolnJon BernthalSarah Wayne CalliesLaurie HoldenJeffrey DeMunnSteven YeunChandler RiggsNorman ReedusLauren CohanDanai GuriraMichael RookerDavid MorrisseyMelissa McBrideScott WilsonMichael CudlitzEmily Kinney & Chad L. Coleman

While The Walking Dead has decreased in quality, the premise of the show is still gripping and suspenseful and good for a fright or two a week. And as it turns out, going through these frightening situations with these characters makes you really care for them. So when they kill one of my friends off, it is devastating.

Beth and Gorman

But after all this time, I still can’t stay quiet while watching. The suspense level is off the chain and I’m always like, “What are you doing?” “Run you stupid fuck.”

Daryl and Carol

This half season has frustrated me. There were a few amazing episodes. The first at Terminus, the third with the Hunters, Daryl and Carol’s episode and the mid-season finale were four of the best episodes the show has ever aired. But the way everyone is losing their humanity just doesn’t sit right with me. A couple of really annoying new villains and allies are ruining the show for me as well. Because the good guys have gotten less good, so the bad guys have to be cartoonishly evil. And it feels like the zombies are no longer the main focus of the show. The show has become this idiot’s guide to surviving the apocalypse and its main advice is to be an asshole.


However, it is still a fun show. And I still watch The Walking Dead in the dark because it’s even more fun that way. It’s just they need to bring back a moral center to the show.

Hershel was right. Surviving but losing your humanity is not surviving at all.

TURN: Washington’s Spies (AMC)

Washington's Spies

Created by Craig Silverstein

Based on Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring (2007) by Alexander Rose

Starring Jamie BellSeth NumrichDaniel HenshallHeather Lind, Meegan Warner, Kevin R. McNallyBurn GormanAngus MacfadyenSamuel RoukinJJ FeildIan Kahn, Owain Yeoman & Ksenia Solo

I enjoyed this show about the first American spy ring during the revolutionary war.


I like the period. I like the characters. I like the story.

Turn Washington's Spies

I want more of this. I’m glad they’re bringing it back for a second season.

George Washington meets with Benjamin Tallmadge and Nathaniel Sackett

I like the show. I like the history. One of our better wars. I expect great things.

Speaking of history…

Vikings (History)


Created by Michael Hirst

Starring Travis FimmelKatheryn WinnickClive StandenJessalyn GilsigGustaf SkarsgårdGeorge BlagdenAlexander LudwigAlyssa SutherlandDonal LogueLinus Roache & Gabriel Byrne

Vikings gets better with every season. Vikings is awesome. I love Vikings… just in general. And Viking women are very hot. I love me some warrior women. This show is very cool. Except that Vikings is the only show on this list with absolutely no people of color. Zero. But they get a pass

Eric and Lagertha

Maybe we’ll see some Native Americans this seasons. Or some Mongols. Or a North African. Still a great show, however.


And I can’t help but watch it even though The History Channel is the most overtly racist television channels OF ALL TIME. And I’m including FoxNews. (Nazi aficionados and Civil War re-enactors were their entire audience for the longest time. Take a look at that Venn diagram for a moment)


But Vikings is really good even if it does have a built-in excuse to not have any other races in it. The show is cool. And Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha is hot as all hell.

And that’s all. That’s eleven.

There was a lot of evil in this post.

From the viking raiders to the conquering ad execs. From the spies for our side to the spies for their side to the industrial spies just out for themselves. From the gunfighters with the quick triggers to the good people forced to do bad things to survive… with the quick triggers. From the horrors at the Freak Show to the murders at the Bates Hotel. Remember, no matter what the folks at Jaguar tell you, it isn’t good to be bad.

It’s just bad.

Next up Premium Dramas (Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Showtime etc.)

See you on the couch.

– Mel