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    Entries in television (3)

    Monday
    May162011

    The LA Geek Outtakes – Underrated TV Shows

    Following on our last episode where we talked about our top three underrated, cancelled TV series, we return with a new set of off-topic outtakes from the recording session. A little banter, some swapping of stories about working in the video store and then a little musical number to send you off. Enjoy!

    Listen | MP3 Podcast - 15mb

    Tuesday
    May032011

    Gone But Not Forgotten; Underrated TV Shows – The LA Geek Podcast

    Out of Los Angeles, California featuring three LA Geeks: Rama, David G. and Scott From LA, arguing about geek culture. This time around, we have a go at listing our top three underrated, cancelled TV shows. Now, before everyone starts yelling at us about not mentioning Firefly or Veronica Mars, we intentionally stayed away from the shows that EVERYONE knows about! Instead, the focus is programs that you may not have ever heard of but, in our opinion, deserve a look-see. Oh, and we might even argue with each other, too!

    PROGRAM NOTE: This will likely be the last episode under the LA Geek name, for reasons we’ll share with you on a future podcast. Don’t worry, we’re not going away, just changing our name!

    Listen | MP3 Podcast - 37mb

    Monday
    Dec222008

    Best/Worst of 2008 in Television

    I watch a lot of television. I’ve broken it down into 4 relatively arbitrary categories: Animated, Comedy, Drama and Sci Fi/Fantasy. I left Reality sows off the list because, really, no one cares. Some may argue with the categories, but, Hell, it’s my list, so screw ‘em.

    The programs on this list represent shows that were new or ongoing in 2008. As a result, some of them are from the end of last season and some are from the Fall premieres this season. There were some programs that I discovered or were broadcast for the first time in America in 2008 (Primeval, Sarah Jane Adventures) but they were originally produced and/or run in 2007 in the U.K. I did not include them in my choices though they are on the complete list.

    I didn’t always have enough to fill out a full 10 shows for each category, so some are a little light. In order from least bad to worst and in order from good to best, here are my top picks.

    Animated
    Worst of 2008:
    3. The Simpsons – I haven’t laughed in 3 seasons now.
    2. King of the Hill – This show hasn’t been funny since... Ever. Really.
    1. Aqua Teen Hunger Force – What was seriously edgy, surrealist humor became pure random nonsense this season. It was like watching a 5-year old paint on the wall with crayons.

    Best of 2008:
    4. Batman: The Brave and The Bold – I thought I would hate this show, but something about it’s bubblegum sensibility really caught me up in it.
    3. Robot Chicken – What needs to be said about this show that we haven’t all said before?
    2. Family Guy – See Above.
    1. The Venture Brothers – Bitingly good satire of all the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up on.

    Comedy
    Worst of 2008:
    5. Testees – A lame attempt by FX to capitalize on the same sense of humor as “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
    4. Gary Unmarried – I watched it because I like Jay Mohr, but this is stock-standard sitcom fare.
    3. Big Bang Theory – Sorry to any who can stand this, but these are non-geeks writing what they think geeks are like, but with a laugh track.
    2. Little Britain USA – The original Brit-version was hit or miss. This one is all miss. A combination of generic skits that could be set anywhere with skits that are broad American stereotypes but have no insight or wit. Watch “Tracey Takes On” to see how an English(wo)man really skewers Americans.
    1. Kath and Kim – I turned this off after 10 minutes. The characters and writing were that abhorrent.

    Best of 2008:
    5. My Name Is Earl – Coming off of a rocky last season, they’ve found their legs again this Fall.
    4. Chuck – In addition to being good fun, Adam Baldwin is always great to watch. This is the show you should watch instead of Big Bang Theory.
    3. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia – You either love it or hate it. It’s rude, crude, irreverent and offensive.
    2. The Office – It is a well-written show. It’s not the U.K. Version, but it shouldn’t be a retread. Over the life of the show, they've made the format they're own and managed to grow the characters without losing the essence of the show.
    1. How I Met Your Mother – Consistently well-written and it has NPH! Also, the writers for this show and Chuck write geeks better than the Big Bang Theory. Jokes carry over from episode to episode, so doesn't feel like a one-and-done sitcom. I really, really enjoy this show.

    Drama
    Worst of 2008:
    5. The Unit – Wow, this show jumped the shark right at the beginning of the season and kept going. I'm still watching, but mostly out of morbid curiosity.
    4. CSI: New York – Even Gary Sinise couldn’t prevent the writers from turning this show into CSI: Miami, Jr. I watched up to last season's finale but couldn't bring myself to watch it again this season.
    3. Big Shots – An American attempt at remaking Manchild from the U.K. Instead of keeping the same half an hour format, they made it a full hour-long drama. It had a decent cast, but they lost all the fun of the original.
    2. 24: Redemption – Well, that was a pointless 2 hours I can never get back. I'd go into detail, but someone reading this might not want a spoiler.
    1. The Cleaner – Benjamin Bratt is really a stand-out in this show, unfortunately it is too preachy and the directing overly melodramatic. The premise wears thin after 2-3 episodes.

    Best of 2008:
    5. Generation Kill – An amazing HBO miniseries about an advanced Marine Recon unit during the invasion of Iraq. Watch it back to back with Band of Brothers.
    4. Breaking Bad – I was blown away with Brian Cranston as the lead in this series. Two of the five top shows in this category are from FX Channel. That should tell you something.
    3. Mad Men – Darren Star did an excellent job capturing the era of 1960’s Madison Avenue. A laconically paced show, it has more going on in the silence between dialogue than most films.
    2. Sons of Anarchy – Imagine “Hamlet” meets the Hell’s Angels. It’s great to see Ron Perlman playing a role without makeup. There are so many great things I can say about this show, but really you need to track it down and watch.
    1. The Wire – The best show on television. Ever. Over the life of the Wire, the show-runners have turned the spotlight on drugs, law enforcement, the education system, government at all levels, corruption and more. It is at times raw, depressing, occasionally upliftng, but always moving.

    Honourable Mentions:
    Boston Legal – David E. Kelly passed on “Life On Mars” just so that he could get one last 13 episode season for this show. It had some dips the past few seasons, but these last episodes were a tour de force of writing and acting. They all went out on a high and I’ll miss them. Denny Crane!

    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – I’ve no idea how the rest of the season will go, but the beginning of Fall 2008 has been some of the best shows in the past 2 seasons. They are really focusing on Grissom’s characterization (William Peterson) and how the entire cast relates to him and each other. Some quality television here..

    In Plain Sight – This USA network program really surprised me. I thought I would hate it, but it’s surprisingly well-written. Mary McCormack plays a believable strong female lead with many, many faults. Her family drama can be tiring, but the stories revolving around her job as a Federal Marshall are good.

    In Treatment – HBO’s adaptation of the critically acclaimed Israeli show Betipul, created by Hagai Levi. It’s about a psychotherapist, Dr. Paul Weston, and his weekly sessions with his patients, starring Gabriel Byrne. The shows broadcast once a day, five days a week. Each day was a different client and that client’s story would continue the next week at the same time. I found it arresting. I would save up and entire week’s worth of shows and watch them in a marathon.

    Leverage – This show is too new to put on any best of list, but it is worth keeping an eye one. Timothy Hutton stars as an ex-insurance investigator who leads a crew of crooks and con-men who pull jobs to help out the little guy. Very light, tongue-in-cheek writing with some good action on the side.

    The Mentalist – A Fall 2008 new procedural starring Simon Baker as an ex-TV mentalist (think Derren Brown) who now works with the police to help solve crimes. I’ll admit, the actual plots may not be the most original, but Simon Baker is so much fun to watch that it has shot to the top of my watch list. Even the supporting cast are great to see when they interact with him.

    The Riches – Sadly, this show has been put on the chopping block. For anyone who is a fan of Eddie Izzard, this was the perfect opportunity to see him really stretch out in an ongoing series. He’s always been great in movie roles and cameos, but The Riches really let him grow. Smartly written as well. Every time I thought they had plotted themselves into a corner, they managed to pleasantly surprise me with a twist.

    Sci Fi/Fantasy
    Worst of 2008:
    5. True Blood – I tried. I did a full 6 episodes, but I found it boring. Maybe it’s because Vampires are so labored at this point and this seemed another retread of an old idea but trying to make it weird enough to justify being an HBO program.
    4. Smallville – It is so painful to watch this show now. Even the geekgasm I get from seeing live-action versions of my favorite DC characters cannot overcome the tortured dialogue, logic gaps and high school soap opera relationships.
    3. Moonlight - Yet another ill-fated vampire drama. “What if he’s a vampire, but he’s also a Private Investigator? And he’s been around since the 50’s? Gold!” No, not really.
    2. Flash Gordon – Oh My GOD! This was craaaaaaaaap.
    1. Knight Rider – I have never, NEVER, turned off a new program before the halfway mark. I always try and give it the benefit of the doubt; maybe even 3 episodes before I give up on it. This season, I deleted 2 programs from my TIVO after only 10 Minutes; “Kath and Kim” and “Knight Rider.” It was bad. Not “So bad it’s good” bad. Just bad.

    Best of 2008:
    5. Life On Mars – I’ve heard so much negative blowback from pretty much everyone I know that they were going to do an American remake. I was surprised at how much I like this series, in spite of that. I’m lucky in that I have not seen the original series, so I have no bar against which to measure. I’m glad, actually, as it allows me to enjoy the program without the original influencing my own impressions.
    4. Fringe – This show was slow to get started. At first the characterizations were sketchy, the scripts seemed to jump about and the whole endeavour came off like it didn’t know what it wanted to be. Since then, I think they’ve settled into a good groove. They’ve established an arc story, fleshed out the characters and put in some solid writing. It has enough of the weirdness to be a good successor to the “X-Files” and some thriller/action fromthe influence of “Alias.” I’m looking forward to the ongoing story.
    3. Reaper – Ray Wise as The Devil. Let me say that again, “Ray Wise as The Devil.” Laura. Palmer’s. Dad. Is. The. Devil. Is there any more to say? Other than that it is a fresh, original idea, has a fun cast and witty writing? Cannot wait for its return this season.
    2. Doctor Who – Well, who doesn’t love Who. David Tennant is a joy to watch, even though I cannot stand Donna Noble. At. All.
    1. Battlestar Galactica – Consistently the best Sci Fi show on television. It has shown itself to have crossover appeal to people who do not normally watch Science Fiction, at least in my crowd. When my friends’ wives, who would normally be watching “Grey’s Anatomy,” started having BSG watching parties, I knew there was much, much more to this show.

    The complete Television Watched List (in alphabetical order):
    Animated:
    - American Dad
    - Aqua Teen Hunger Force
    - Batman, The
    - Batman: The Brave and The Bold
    - Family Guy
    - King of the Hill
    - Legion of Super-Heroes
    - Moral Orel
    - Robot Chicken
    - Simpsons, The
    - South Park
    - Spectacular Spider-Man, The
    - Star Wars: The Clone Wars
    - Venture Brothers, The

    Comedy:
    - 30 Rock
    - Big Bang Theory
    - Carpoolers
    - Chocolate News
    - Chuck
    - Curb Your Enthusiasm
    - Entourage
    - Gary Unmarried
    - How I Met Your Mother
    - It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
    - Kath and Kim
    - Little Britain USA
    - Miss Guided
    - My Name Is Earl
    - Office, The
    - Reno 911
    - Sarah Silverman Show, The
    - Saturday Night Live
    - Scrubs
    - Testees
    - Unhitched
    - Welcome to the Captain

    Drama:
    - 24: Redemption
    - Big Shots
    - Boston Legal
    - Breaking Bad
    - Cleaner, The
    - CSI
    - CSI: New York
    - Dirty Sexy Money
    - Eli Stone
    - Generation Kill
    - Grey's Anatomy
    - In Plain Sight
    - In Treatment
    - Las Vegas
    - Law and Order
    - Law and Order: Criminal Intent
    - Law and Order: SVU
    - Leverage
    - Mad Men
    - Mentalist, The
    - Monk
    - New Amsterdam
    - October Road
    - Psych
    - Riches, The
    - Shark
    - Sons of Anarchy
    - Unit, The
    - Wire, The

    Reality:
    - 30 Days
    - Amazing Race
    - American Gladiators
    - Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
    - Deadliest Catch
    - Hell's Kitchen
    - Intervention
    - Kitchen Nightmares
    - Mythbusters
    - So You Think you Can Dance
    - Survivor
    - Survivorman

    Sci Fi/Fantasy:
    - Battlestar Galactica
    - Doctor Who
    - Eureka
    - Flash Gordon
    - Fringe
    - Heroes
    - Knight Rider
    - Legend of the Seeker
    - Life On Mars
    - Lost
    - Moonlight
    - Primeval
    - Reaper
    - Robin Hood
    - Sanctuary
    - Sarah Jane Adventures, The
    - Smallville
    - Stargate: Atlantis
    - Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
    - Torchwood
    - True Blood

    Interview:
    - Colbert Report, The
    - Daily Show, The
    - Real Time with Bill Mahar
    - Showbiz Show with David Spade, The