Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TV-Hounding Update

My TV-hounding skills have proved pretty sharp. Most series I've latched onto have turned out to be winners. I cheat, though, cribbing from Alan Sepinwall, whose blog is essential reading in this golden age of television (I wrote more about him - and linked to some of his best-of lists - here).

Here are a couple of previous gigunda postings where I touted most of my favorites:

"Must CTV"

"More TV Rapture"

Anyway, I have some updates:

You're likely bored and bewildered by the endless sequels and remakes of the Hannibal Lechter story. But forget all those (including even the Demme original) and just watch the NBC series Hannibal, which is extraordinary. It's slow, broody, deep, subtle...all the qualities one wouldn't expect in this drama. Yeah, it's psychologically disturbing, but not very violent or terrifying. Hannibal is a show aimed at those who appreciate fine touches and great acting/writing/directing/cinematography/art direction, not horror fans. And it returns for its second season on February 28.

Also slow, broody, deep, and subtle: True Detective. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson act their asses off, capably matched by Nic Pizzolatto's superb writing and Cary Joji Fukunaga's unparalleled direction. I started off this first season (currently 5 shows in) merely loving it, but the last two episodes stepped things up to incredibleness. This show's Breaking Bad good (and remember: I was into that show early, first mentioning it here way back in 2009)!

There are tons of over-the-top adult cartoon series with highly stylized senses of humor that do nothing for me. I get the impression they're mostly geared toward viewers who go heavy on the Red Bull. I'm also not a fan of Adult Swim, the cable network that's home to a lot of those shows. But their series Rick & Morty is so so so brilliant, so deeply funny. It's super gross-out stuff, yet the asides and references make Bullwinkle look like Caspar. The show's building an enormo following among folks who don't ordinarily view cartoons (if you haven't heard about it yet, you probably soon will). You can catch up with previous episodes (they're all good, but the show keeps getting better each week) here.

I raved once before about The Americans, on FX ("a new espionage thriller set in the 1980's, about a Russian sleeper cell in the American suburbs. It's a seemingly normal American couple under such deep cover that they don't even speak Russian, or reveal their earlier lives to each other, even in private moments. And the show's as much an exploration of their sixteen year marriage - even they're not sure what's "cover" and what's "real" - as of their spycraft."). Not only is it one of my favorite TV series of all time, it has the distinction of being the one show I can recommend to anybody and be absolutely certain they'll love it. No one's ever reported disappointment in this one. And it returns for its second season on February 26.

Extra bonus: GoWatchIt is a website and mobile app where you can plug in any movie and it will tell you if it's available on Netflix (disk and/or streaming), Amazon Prime, iTunes, etc. You can save a Queue, and ask GoWatchIt to notify you when a given title becomes available on any/all those services.


Friends of the Garden of Ideas said...

Thanks for "The Americans" and "Hannibal" tips. Love 'em.

Currently re-visiting "Freaks and Geeks" with our 9 year old. What a pitch perfect show. Even better the second time around.

Jim Leff said...

If you're good with the meditative pace and subtlety of Hannibal, you really should watch True Detective!

Could never get into Freaks and Geeks, but never got past episode one. Something about kid actors almost always annoys me. Also, I have trouble enjoying shows about realms I know a lot about (e.g. high school here, or jazz trombone in Treme).

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