Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Recommendations, Part 1 - TV

Since my wife kicked some major butt on her GMAT, we celebrated by getting some unsung TV shows on DVD. One of them was the Cartoon Network's "Home Movies" - a jagged little animation that she found late one night trying to get our son to sleep and became quickly addicted to, and then hooked me on. It's one of those shows where the simple description - "A boy who likes to make home movies and how he deals with life" - just doesn't do it justice. If I recall correctly, it's also mostly unscripted, a la Spinal Tap, where the actors know what needs to come out in a scene but how they do it is up to them. It's very funny, and the first season's out on DVD now, with season 2 in May. It's also on at some insomniac hour on Monday morning - 1:30, 2 AM, something like that.

Another one we got was the very short lived series "Popular." The person who created this also created "Grosse Point Break" and now does "Nip/Tuck" on F/X. It's like a more snarky Gilmore Girls set mostly in high school, with good writing and great little toss-off lines. It also can be surprisingly serious at times, dealing with bulimia and racial issues in a way that wasn't too heavy-handed to forget the humor. That being said, it's still basically just a funny show to watch.

Although this next one has the buzz, it doesn't have the ratings, and that could spell disaster for "Arrested Development." I know you've heard about this show, and I promise you it is as good as you've heard. I will also confess that for a long while I was hit-or-miss on it. I loved it when I saw it, but if I missed it I could live. Contrast that with, say, "Scrubs" or "Gilmore Girls" or "Joan of Arcadia", where I set the home schedule around it; dinner has to be done so I can watch it, for example. Which was odd, because it was my kind of show - it has little jokes everywhere, and if you pay attention you end up laughing twice as much; for example, in one episode a character was walking along to the "Charlie Brown Christmas" theme, and just on the edge of the screen was a doghouse with a dog on top of it. Now I'm hooked on it too. We've got the first season on DVD, and the second season may be its last, so enjoy it while you can.

As noted above, other shows we watch on TV are "Scrubs" (living proof the Emmy's are out of date, that they've never won anything while shrill one-joke shows like Will & Grace do), "Gilmore Girls" (gotta love a show that references Oscar Levant in a put down), and "Joan of Arcadia" (another show on the bubble). I also like "The Shield" on F/X, but find it a little hard to watch now that Xander is old enough to wonder about some of the acts on there. Believe me, this is not a light show to watch, and it earned its TV-M rating. But it's still excellent, with the acting being superb. Glenn Close just joined the cast, and she doesn't show anyone up - THAT'S how good the acting is. We watch Law and Order now and again (since we have TNT it's impossible to miss it) but now prefer Law and Order, Special Victims Unit. I have to say I think L&O the original has peaked - they couldn't do anything w/Elisabeth Rohm's character, and she can act, as she proved on Angel when she was there. That's a sign the writing is starting to give way. But SVU is still excellent, and will probably become the standard bearer soon.

So, if you're looking for something to watch, give these a try. Of course, I have been accused of being more than a little strange, so these may not be to your taste. Caveat emptor.

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