Thursday, April 9, 2009

Television and Whatnot

In conversation today, two friends and I observed that even though there doesn't seem to be as much good television as there used to be, what's worth watching is great. Without further ado, here is my list of ten shows you should be watching if you're not. For the most part, I'm not breaking any new ground here, but that doesn't make these recommendations any less significant. Bottom line - give each of these shows at least a three episode trial period, and be prepared to explain to me why you didn't like them.

1o. Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire - saw the pilot episode tonight, and I'm sold. It's a sword and sorcery comedy that hilariously glosses over and misinterprets fantasy fandom the way Hercules and Xena used to. That may make it seem a little behind the times, but don't worry - it's also just funny in a slightly anachronistic, wildly cheap-looking way. Comedy Central, Thursday nights (I think).

9. The Big Bang Theory - aside from being one of the Barenaked Ladies' final projects as a group (they did the opening theme), it's a truly smart, and even though it's a sitcomy as sitcoms get, an uncannily accurate representation of general geekdom. As a side note, Jim Parsons, who plays the aspbergerian Sheldon, is a Klein HS grad and a former member of Infernal Bridegroom. 7 p.m. Mondays, CBS

8. Important Things with Demetri Martin - it's hit or miss, but when it hits, oh mercy. Martin's humor is so smart that some sketches will require repeat viewings. If Sesame Street grew up and became a sketch comedy show, this would probably be pretty close. Comedy Central, Wednesday nights.

7. The Office - do I really have to get into this one? If you're familiar with it, but haven't watched in a while, you really do need to catch up. Several character paradigms are about to shift dramatically. NBC, Thursday nights.

6. 30 Rock - And while you're enjoying The Office, give Liz Lemon and the gang some love. This show is entirely too classy for its' own good, and owes a huge debt of gratitude to the fate of Arrested Development for NBC having the balls to keep it on the air. Watch it! NBC, Thursday nights.

5. Breaking Bad - If you haven't seen this show yet, be prepared. It will take over. It's already climbing in the ratings, and I'm expecting it to have Sopranos-style juggernautitude (yes, I just made that up!) by the time the third season comes around. How do I know? It's already been picked up, fools! AMC, Sunday nights.

4. John Adams - it's a miniseries, and it's over. I don't care. Go out and rent it if you don't want to buy it sight unseen. You will skip lunches for two weeks to save up and get it. Every moment of it is monumentally important and serves as a crucial reminder of the kind of people who made this country. HBO, run finished - available at all DVD outlets.

3. Kings - Ian McShane. You want to hear a man talk, you can't find a better hour and place to listen. NBC, Saturday night death slot.

2. How I Met Your Mother - I have such a hard time selling people on this one, and I can't understand why. Yes, it's a traditional three-camera sitcom with a laugh track, but no laugh in there is sweetened or cheap. Plus, it provides a dynamite five-person ensemble: Josh Radnor, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, and Neil Patrick Harris, an impeccable sense of continuity (even better than The Office in this regard), and many, many quotable, memorable moments, often associated with one Barney - wait for it - Stinson. This show is firmly ensconced, does well in the ratings, and will finish on it's own terms - but that doesn't mean you should put it off until it's over. CBS, Monday nights.

1. Mad Men - what can I say that hasn't already been said? One of my favorite plays is Night and Her Stars, a Richard Greenberg piece about the quiz show scandal of the 1950's. The language is gorgeous - no one writes like Greenberg... except these guys. Watch this:

thank me later, and watch Mad Men. They're replaying the 2nd season right now, and the 3rd season kicks off this summer.

All for now.

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