Well, friends, summer never happened much here in the Pacific NW. Double S and I have several raised beds filled with huge, GREEN tomato plants. Not even a tinge of red on even one fruit. I guess it’s pickled green tomatoes and fried green tomatoes for yours truly in the coming months. Hell, we still have our SWEETass 8’x30″ pool still set up on the deck, in hopes of one more day of splashing. In our own pool! But alas, as the days of September march on, methinks that won’t happen. Nope, the weather around here, if not the calendar, tells me that it’s fall. Fall, besides leaves and school and the end of long nights, means the start of a new teevee season! It’s time to put on a brisket, toss the ol’ pigskin around, and go watch your stories!
I think we’re in a bit of a golden age of television right now. Scripted television that it. And as I was editing this post today, I saw this by the New York Times film critic A.O. Scott. It’s not all roses though. Reality teevee continues to thrive, unabated, most likely bringing about the downfall of us all. But, if you look for it, you can find television that is intelligent, hilarious, insightful and poignant. You do have to look for it, though. That’s where I step in, friends! Friends don’t let friends watch bad tv. So put down your remotes! Stop watching reality shows, crime procedurals, tween vampire schlock, most lawyer shows, and pretty much anything on CBS and watch something that will have you thinking and talking and laughing. Maybe our tastes aren’t the same…I thought of that though! First, read my list of current, returning shows that I enjoy. It would be worth your while, bt dubs, to check these out on DVD or ondemand or Roku or whatever you use, if you haven’t already. Then, at the bottom of this post, check out my thoughts on some new shows premiering in the coming weeks that have intrigued me. There is some good analysis of tv out there right now as well, and that’s where I got most of these recommendations. I like Alan Sepinwall here (I got Double S hooked on his Mad Men recaps), Mo Ryan here, and this site here.
Returning Shows That I Currently Enjoy:
This current season, the show’s fourth, is arguably the best yet. The current story arcs are building not just on the 6 episodes so far, but on the three previous seasons. Who are we? Who really knows us? Can Jon Hamm be any more handsome? These questions and more are stylishly and painstakingly answered every week on Mad Men. I cannot recommend this show more. Did you see the past two weeks episodes? Mad Men is not getting staid in its fourth season. It’s becoming clear that the relationship at the heart of the show is the one between Don, the show’s protagonist, and Peggy, Don’s one time secretary and now an overachieving member of the agency’s creative staff, and it’s being handled extremely well. Double S dreamt about Don Draper the night after we watched “The Suitcase.” It was that good. Don and his ladies are on the cover of this week’s Rolling Stone as well.
You need to watch this show from the beginning, so no clips for you! Instead, here are some of my favorite Mad Men related content. The Simpsons parodied the opening.
And Jon Hamm killed it a few years ago on SNL. Here’s Don Draper doing Def Comedy Jam.
And this, from SNL, Don Draper’s Guide to Picking Up Women. With Amy Poehler!
Mad Men is on Sunday nights on AMC. Only a few more episodes left of the season. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
How I Met Your Mother:
It just had its worst season, but it’s creators say it’s getting back to its roots and will finally answer some questions…like who is the mother. I think HIMYM is like a snarkier, edgier Friends. All the members of the gang bring something to the table. Including Ted, who I like, so sue me! Last season still had some funny, even though it was clearly the show’s worst season. I love anything about Robin being Canadian. HIMYM is on Monday nights on CBS, and it’s premiere is September 20.
My network teevee drama guilty pleasure. But it’s kinda good! It reminds me of tv from my youth. Just a straight up drama about a family. You don’t need to analyze every detail, or attempt to learn the mythology of the show. Just drop by and spend an hour with the Braverman’s, whydoncha? Plus the Braverman’s are Northern California liberal types who are over-involved in each other’s lives, and that’s kinda fun. And Peter Krause is in it! Nate, we missed you! Double S and I still just refer to him as Nate on the show. And I think I’m the only person who thinks Lauren Graham is horribly annoying. Nope, I don’t care about The Gilmore Girls!
Remember the original Parenthood? So good! It was set in St. Louis, and lord knows that never happens. Fun fact: I saw Diane Wiest sitting on a jury once in Manhattan criminal court! Ask me for more details!
Parenthood is on Tuesday nights on NBC, it premiered last night September 14.
The most traditional comedy (If traditional is a show in the mockumentary format with two gay main characters!) that I like. Modern Family has been called the savior of the family sitcom. But this show is so NOW with its blended families, mixed race relationships and queers. And you’d think it was trying too hard, but it succeeds. Episode after episode. Plus, unlike a lot of the comedies I like, you get a little tug on the old heartstrings every once in awhile. And what can I say, I’m old and I like that. A highlight from last season was the Fizbo episode. Do you know Fizbo? You should! Modern Family is on Wednesday nights on ABC, premiering September 22.
Community is a little show about a disbarred lawyer, Joel McHale, who has to return to community college to get a real degree. A study group for Spanish class forms and some absolute hilarity ensures. Community is the show I am most looking forward to returning. Shit got increasingly meta, bizarre, referential and awesome as its first season went on. I thought it was the second best comedy of 2009, behind Parks and Recreation. However, Community did have the funniest single episode of a comedy I saw all last season, with the paintball episode, “Modern Warfare.” The main character Jeff Winger falls asleep in his car before a campus wide paintball match, and he wakes up to a paintball apocalypse that is a genius comedic reinterpretation of every action movie from the last 20 years.
Also, if you haven’t already, you need to meet Troy and Abed. Check ’em out here.
Stick with this next clip to the end. Hilarious. Also, check your Tivos and DVRs. The best Troy and Abed bits are at the end credits.
And Trudy from Mad Men is on Community! Check out Abed as Don Draper here, trying to learn how to hit on women. Meta!
Community is on Thursday nights on NBC, premiering on September 23.
OK, obvs it’s riding its own coattails from previous seasons. But I am looking forward to the return of the Office to see how it’s creators and writers handle the departure of Steve Carrell. This season is Michael Scott’s last year at Dunder Mifflin, and I’m really hoping that he and Holly ride off into the sunset. Plus I’m hoping that the writers find something to do with Jim and Pam now that their will they or won’t they thing took them all the way to a wedding and a baby. Amy Ryan as Holly is supposed to be back for several episodes this season. You gotta check out their dork love! The Office is on Thursday nights on NBC, premiering on September 23.
Crits say it had its worst season last year, but that’s not too shabby for a show that has been so funny for so long. Plus, on a second watching, it had some great moments last season. The body pillow episode! The Dealbreaker episodes (ladies!)! This bit by Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan about his life growing up.
The bit about the wild dogs opening and successfully running a Wendy’s had me howling. This season there’s set to be more Jon Hamm, and a live episode. Now if they can cut back on the (non Jon Hamm) celebrity guest appearances, maybe it can get back on track. 30 Rock is Thursday nights on NBC, premiering September 23.
Parks and Recreation:
Best comedy of last season. Seriously, watch this now then be royally pissed that NBC put off season three until mid-season so it could air the ridiculous Outsourced in its old timeslot. Hahahahaha Indian people are nerds with funny accents! That’s so funny! Indian people! Avoid! And hope for an early cancellation so Parks and Rec can come back!
Amy Poehler is awesome as Leslie Knope, but Parks is so good because you want to see what’s up with all the characters. Parks and Rec has one of the best ensemble casts on tv. Eye rolling April, doofy but sweet Andy, and the mighty Ron Effing Swanson, whose friendship with Leslie is becoming as well fleshed out as those between Liz and Jack on 30 Rock, and Don and Peggy on Mad Men. There were so many good moments this past season. DJ Roomba!
The show had an underwhelming first season, but came in with a bang for its second season, opening with this, Amy Poehler doing the first verse of Parents Just Don’t Understand, a song to which I will know every word until I’m cold in my grave. It was the first scene of the first episode of the season and it foreshadowed some great stuff. If you had a beat up copy of “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper” like I did, you’ll love the clip. Parks and Recreation is on NBC–but not returning until midseason in 2011, unless perhaps Outsourced goes away quickly.
Friday Night Lights:
Only one more season left. Tears, tears, and more tears. Us non Direct TV peeps won’t get the last season till summer 2011. If you haven’t watched this show before, forget that it’s about Texas and football and go watch it now. This show is actually about relationships and class and race and change. Big changes happened this past season. Here’s a clip. And yep! That is Wallace from season one of The Wire. RIP Wallace! Friday Night Lights will be back on NBC in summer 2011, but if you have Direct TV, it premieres in October.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia:
I just discovered this show this past summer. Charlie is the man! A group of friends (“The Gang”) owns a bar in Philly, and has adventures like finding babies in dumpsters, having dance-offs, going on welfare to avoid having to work, and getting all America on everyone’s asses. I love when they sing the classics fromm my teen years. Like here. And here. And here are two awesome things: Charlie and cats made to do funny things–from last season, Kitten Mittons.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is on Thursday nights on FX, premiering on September 16.
Bryan Cranston has won the best lead actor in a drama Emmy for the past three years for his portrayal of Walter White on Breaking Bad. Mr. White was a high school chemistry teacher turned meth maker turned drug kingpin. Shit gets crazy in season three. Plus, you get to meet my favorite teevee lawyer, Saul Goodman, hilariously portrayed by Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show fame. Check out his website!
Breaking Bad is on AMC and it returns in Summer 2011.
OK, so if those trip your trigger, you might be interested in some of the new shows premiering this fall that look intriguing enough to me to check out. I read teevee blogs at work so you don’t have to! And I’m no teevee critic, but I DID want to be one in 8th grade. Just sayin’.
New shows to check out:
Adrianne Palicki is in this one–Tyra from FNL! Hotness. And speaking of, the lead kinda looks like the ruggedly handsome Kyle Chandler, Coach Taylor on FNL. It’s basically a show about a long con and it’s set in Texas. It appears to marry the feel and atmosphere of FNL with the secrets and lies of Mad Men. Thus, I have high hopes. It looks like a cable show, but it’s on FOX and I haven’t liked a drama on FOX in, I guess, never. But it looks worth a watch. Here’s the (kinda cheesy) trailer.
Lone Star is on Monday nights on FOX, premiering September 20.
The commercials got me. So this one appears to be in the vein of 24 and Lost, with it’s mystery and unanswered questions and riddles and whatnot. It’s been done a lot in the last few years, but this concept intrigues me so I gotta give it a chance. Did you watch Flash Forward last season? It started so good but took a break for a few months and never recovered. But ya gotta admit, this preview is some good watchin’.
The Events in on Monday nights on NBC, premiering September 20.
This one has Mr. Amy Poehler, Will Arnett…and David Cross! Will Arett and David Cross! Come on! Will plays a rich jerk and teevee’s Felicity, Keri Russell, plays his do-gooder ex girlfriend from long ago, who attempts to make him a better person. Mitch Huritz, creator of Arrested Development, created this one too, which hopefully will get them beyond this questionable premise.
And here’s a shot of David Cross, who will be playing an eco-terrorist. I’m in.
Running Wilde is on Tuesday nights on Fox, premiering September 21.
The Walking Dead:
About the non zombie survivors of a zombie apocalypse, based on the comic book by Robert Kirkman. This is on AMC, which is truly at the top of it’s game right now, with Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Couple that with the balls to make a series about zombies. I’m in. Check out this intense trailer.
The Walking Dead will be on Sunday nights on AMC, premiering on Halloween.
If you’re lucky enough to get HBO, this one’s for you. I’m still trying to talk Double S into upping our cable package. Wish me luck! Ill be DVDing this one once it comes out or streaming it online. Boardwalk Empire is set on the eve of Prohibition in 1920 Atlantic City. This one stars Steve Buscemi, and is created by Terrence Winter, formerly of The Sopranos, also the alma mater of Mad Men’s creator Matthew Weiner, and the pilot is executive produced by Martin Scorcese. Plus, Omar’s coming! Michael K. Williams is back, as basically what appears to be old timey Omar. Come on, Double S! It won’t cost that much more!
Here’s the trailer.
Boardwalk Empire is on Sunday nights on HBO, premiering September 19.
Okay, that’s it for me, friends out there in teevee land. If you can, get out there and squeeze a few more bits out of summer before you settle too deeply into your stories. Be safe, and please, use your DVRs. Fall is almost here!