Monday, January 21, 2008

What I'm Watching: Strike! Edition

Normally, around this time of year, I'd write the second half of my "What I'm Watching" TV-recommendation post. In September, I like to give a summary of my possible TV schedule for the season; when winter hiatus ends, I follow up with what made the cut and why. The "What I'm Watching" thing is, however, obviously problematic this year. Striking writers, and all. In terms of current non-reality shows, I'm watching very little at all.

Which doesn't mean I haven't made good use of the time. I miss my shows, and I'm so, so smad for the writers and the non-writer folks who aren't working because "we don't know if the internet's gonna make any money," but I'd be lying if I said my TV was gathering dust. This is like a weirdly placed summer break. All this time to catch up on all the shows I've ignored over the years? It's not ideal, but it sure does cut down on the "things I should have watched but haven't" list. And so I present What I'm Watching: Strike! Edition.

Friday Night Lights
I'm not sure what NBC would have to do to get people to watch Friday Night Lights (make it look less like a football-themed teen drama?), but I feel like personally going to everybody I know, looking deep into their eyes, and saying with great gravitas, "You must watch this show." I don't care who you are: young, old, single, married, into TV, not into TV, whatever. If you like stories about people, and if you have a heart pumping blood through your body, I dare you to watch the first disc of the first season and not fall crazily in love with Dillon, TX. This show is spectacularly written and spectacularly acted, but those are only the means to a funny, sad, real, heart-breaking, head-nodding, "that's so true!"-inducing end. "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," indeed. (Bonus: First season: $20 at full price! Unheard-of! Watch it today!)

Arrested Development
I've often said that The Office is a groundbreaking show, the kind of TV that will change the medium. I still think that. But I have to give props: before there was The Office, there was Arrested Development. My brother gave me the complete series (three seasons) for Christmas, and this show has been a weird, hilarious bright spot in early 2008: a half-hour comedy with an ongoing plot and jokes that build on themselves for whole seasons at a time. For the uninitiated, it's about "a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son that had no choice but to keep them all together" (It's in the theme song). Other than that, there's really nothing to explain, except that Will Arnett doing his Mexican chicken dance will never not reduce me to tears. Just...helpless, sometimes guilty, laughter. So, so funny.

I was saving LOST for a rainy day, and that day came when I visited Maggie in Phoenix and she sent me home with her first-season DVDs. Now, can we face facts for a moment? This show is CRAZY. Tropical-island-with-polar-bears-and-monsters-and-underground-faux-Cold-War-Buddhist-bunkers crazy. But I love it. I love the first season for making me care (mostly) about an almost infinite number of character relationships (14 factorial!), and I think I love the second season even more, for having an actual plot and for creeping the heck out of me on a regular basis ("I'm Henry Gale. I'm from Minnesota." Ack!), and for having Sawyer show up, drunk, in everyone's backstory. Heh. It's weird and intense, but also deeply rooted in character--it has to be, to make us care deeply about that many fictional people--and full of nice little moments. It's ambitious and sometimes silly, but rarely boring. Bonus: Season 4 starts January 31! New TV for this wasteland of a season! Totally worth it.

So that's the current roster. But, really (and don't tell the AMPTP this or we'll be TV-less for a lot longer), I could go for awhile. I have the first season of Six Feet Under burning a hole in my DVD shelf, and Battlestar Galactica, Bleak House, the second season of Weeds, and Dead Like Me sitting on my Netflix queue. And Masterpiece Theatre's doing the complete Jane Austen on Sundays. And if we're stuck long-term, I can always break out the big guns: Buffy and Angel, which is a combined...what, eleven seasons? Don't think I won't, guys. I'm just looking for a reason (besides pregnancy bed rest and bunion surgery, which have been my go-to Buffy/Angel watchwords). I'm here for the long haul. (But please, can we have our TV back?)


Anonymous said...

I've actually been enjoying the break. I'm watching some older movies via Netflix, and I'm re-reading Austen. And, should the strike continue, I shall endeavor to be studious when my classes start rather than watching tv.

Ben said...

The Mexican chicken dance! I totally love it. There's one where Lindsay tries it, doubling the hilarity. Have you come to the part with Mrs. Featherbottom and the umbrella yet? That's the one that reduces me to tears every single time. Six Feet Under is amazing. I'm taking a breather from it now to go through The Wire, which I absolutely love (who can resist a show with a gay gangster who robs other drug dealers and whistles "farmer in the dell"?).

Sara said...

Umm, pregnancy bed rest?

Is there something you'd like to tell the rest of the family?


No, I didn't think so. I don't have anything either.

Don't forget "Firefly." That'll Whedon you out.

You might want to check out "China Beach" as well, unfortunately, all you can get is the pilot episode on DVD.

Ooh, or David Lynch - all of a sudden so many Simpsons Episodes make sense. . . . Burns suit!

Glenna C said...

Buffy, waaaaaatch it! It's OK, you don't have to watch both Buffy and Angel all at once. I watched Buffy all the way through over the course of a few months, then went to Angel after a short break. There are some tie-in eps with Buffy S4 and Angel S1, but after that it's pretty standalone. And it's the awesome crack. :D

Liz said...

Christine, that's very virtuous of you. (Also, I have yet to even start Sunday's "Northanger Abbey." All in good time (i.e. when I need some knitting TV).

Liz said...

Ben, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the scene with Lindsay joining the chicken dance. So, so life-changingly funny. I have seen Mrs. Featherbottom and the umbrella, which was pretty hilarious, but I forgot to add the other thing that has me on the floor every single time: every time the P.I. guy appears out of nowhere and Lucille goes, "AAAAAAH! YOU GOT ME AGAINNNN!" I just want to do that all the time. HA.

Liz said...

Sara, nothing much to say here. :) It's just that I know I would love Buffy so much that I've kind of been saving it for some period where I can just lie in bed and watch the entire show in one go. I'm afraid I'd never leave my apartment if I tried to watch it while also trying to have a life. Someday, though.

And I *have* watched (and loved) Firefly, so that's something.

Liz said...

You're right, you're right, I know you're right. I just need to jump in and do it one of these days. But I need a good amount of time, I think. I'm reluctant to start now, because what if the strike ends and I'm in, like, S2? But someday. I'll get there.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to watch Buffy *and* Angel. Saying that as someone who's seen most of Buffy (with helpful backstory narrators alongside) and none of Angel. I was always more of a Spike girl anyway.

Sara said...

Sorry, it was very early this morning, and all I could think of was an excuse to be in bed watching "Buffy".

I like your excuse, but can't bring myself to perpetuate it *stupid grin*.

HeHa said...

I don't know if I've commented on your blog before, but I should have. Since I found it looking through versions of the So Called Scarf on Ravelry I've been a regular reader. So hi! I'm Heather.
I agree with all your picks! I think I've actually been watching more tv during the strike. Just on dvd.
My Hiatus Viewing:
House Seasons 1 -3
Freaks and Geeks (how I love thee)
Dexter on Netflix

Sarah said...

Six Feet UNNNDERRRRR! remember when we were going to watch that together, but then you jilted me for Lost? And then, after you watch SFU, and fall in love with how awesomely talented Michael C. hall is, you will have to watch Dexter. For reals.

Reading these responses has made me want to watch AD and Mrs. featherbottom. "It was the exact plot of Mrs. Doubtfire."

Liz said...

Hi, HeHa!

You know, I haven't been able to get into House, but F&G is one of those shows that I can't believe I keep forgetting to watch. I know I would love it always and forever. And Dexter! After I watch Six Feet Under and (apparently, as predicted by Sarah's comment below yours) fall completely for Michael C. Hall, I'll watch Dexter. I'm intrigued.

Welcome! (Also, yay Ravelry! I gave up on the So-Called Scarf and used the yarn for my hat. But I'd love to see yours--it's such a cool pattern.)

Liz said...

Sarah, I do remember when I jilted you (well, not YOU, so much as SFU and Peter Krause's sad face) for LOST. I'm a little sorry, but not that sorry. Because, you see, LOST isn't over. S4 starts next week! And things with a deadline come first. Also, I think I needed some TV adrenaline. LOST is nice and plotty and ridiculous in the best way.

And I loooove Mrs. Featherbottom. Oh, Tobias. You make me laugh and cry at the same time.

HeHa said...

I watched a few seasons of SFU. Didn't like it. They're all so miserable. But then Dexter and House are hardly rays of sunshine.
I'll add you on ravelry. I think I'm going to be able to finish the knitting today. Finally.