Mad Men

   31 December 2015, late evening

Shima and I finally finished watching Mad Men tonight. It feels like a good show to end a year with. We watched the last seven episodes over the last couple days. A strange ending, but I didn’t expect a normal one, I suppose. The show ends strong. These last few episodes are filled with so much emotion. My favourite scene in the show is probably still from an early season: Don visiting Peggy in the hospital. If you’ve seen the show, you know what i’m talking about. But Mad Men is a show filled with so many moments like that. If you haven’t watched Mad Men you should. The writing is solid. The acting is solid. Every shot looks like a photograph. Mad Men is certainly one of the best televisions shows made.

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Master of None

   10 November 2015, early evening

Aziz Ansari’s new show on Netflix, Master of None, is fantastic. There are 10 half hour episodes in total, each focused on a particular topic: from relationships, to immigrant parents, to the portrayal of Indian people in TV and movies. Shima and I watched it over the weekend while Mythilli was asleep: it’s an easy show to binge watch.

The show is sitcom, and there is some amount of continuity from show to show, but really the show feels very much like a vehicle for him to make some very specific points about (his) life. While I found the show quite funny, it also deals with a lot of serious issues. One episode looks at sexism, and the sorts of things women deal with in their day to day lives. One is a look at the blatant racism of film industry in America. I particularly enjoyed the penultimate episode of the show, which was more or less a whirlwind tour through the ups and downs of a relationship. I find television usually does a poor job portraying relationships. (Perhaps Six Feet Under is the only other exception here?) It was weird to see a relationship done so well on a sitcom by Ansari, a pretty goofy comedian.

Ansari is South Indian—in real life and the show—so it was doubly awesome seeing people talking about papadum, mixture, and dropping dope-ass Tamil names like Dr. Ramaswami into conversation. (The fact his character’s name on the show is Dev seems a bit incongruous: that’s not really a Tamil name.) Aziz’s parents on the show are played by his actual parents and they are hilarious. It’s fun watching a show where you can relate to so many of the jokes and situations. (Not introducing girls to your parents! Hells yes. Shima and I were dating for half a year before I told my parents we were. And I would have held out longer, but they asked me straight up!) I guess this is what it’s like to be White and watch television all the time. Ha!

The soundtrack to the show is incredible. I also thought the show was shot wonderfully. The cinematography is on point.

Watch this show: I loved it.

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Over the Garden Wall

   24 January 2015, early evening

Over the Garden Wall is a short miniseries created by Patrick McHale which aired on the Cartoon Network in November of last year. He’s a former writer from Adventure Time. The show is feels like a cross between Oh Brother Where Art Thou and a bunch of Grimm’s fairy tales. Two brothers are lost in some mysterious woods, and are trying to find their way back home. The show is thoroughly weird, and funny, and sweet. There are 10 episodes in total, each 11 minutes long, so its quite easy to get through. You’ll recognize many of the voices from the cast. I can’t recommend it enough.

You can read a much more thorough review of the show at the AV Club.

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Breaking Bad

   29 September 2013, evening time

I’ve seen a lot of really good television. Breaking Bad is probably the best television show ever made. And that’s that.

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The Masters of the Universe Show Bible

    8 September 2012, early morning

I was surprised to learn that a show bible was written for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Michael Halperin was hired to flesh out a fantasy world the show would take place in. You can see a copy of the original bible, scanned and marked up with corrections, over at He-Man.org. That’s not the easiest thing to read. I found the text online at the Myteries of Greyskull, but it’s also poorly formated. In a fit of copyright infringement I decided to tidy things up and host the bible myself. Enjoy, because it’s pretty fantastic.

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I Love Degrassi

   10 February 2012, early morning

The entire series, 140 characters at a time.

I rewatched the entire (original) Dergrassi series a few years ago with Shima. The released a few DVD collections that I knew I must own. The show still holds up today. While watching the shows I would craft 140 character reviews/summaries to post to Twitter. Here they are, collected. You’ll know you’re a true Degrassi fan if they make some sense.

Read the rest of this post. (1823 words)

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LOST Season 6

   24 May 2010, early morning

I suspect the series finale might be a bit contentious. Certainly season 6 was much weaker than those that proceeded it. Still, I have to say i’m in the, “Oh hells yes,” camp when it comes to the show and that finale. The last couple shots were great. Every time a character remembered their actual life you were reminded once again of how awesome the show was. The finale makes you want to watch the show all over again. It’s strange to read my thoughts on the show back in 2005, a little while after it had started. (And season 2, 3, 4, and 5.) Lost is certainly one of the best shows ever made.

Update: FYI: I actually hate Season 6, now that I think back on it now.

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The Corner

   19 May 2010, terribly early in the morning

I finished watching The Corner yesterday. The mini-series is about a drug addled street corner of Baltimore. The series was based on a book written by The Wire creator David Simon, and his colleague Ed Burns. The series was directed by Charles S. Dutton. Each episode begins and ends with Dutton interviewing a cast member, as if the series was a documentary, but the episodes themselves proceed like your typical drama. The show features 3 key protagonists: Gary, a father; Fran, his ex-wife; and DeAndre, their son; the parents are both heroin addicts. If you’ve seen The Wire, you will recognize much of the supporting cast of The Corner. It’s a little bit strange, as the drug addicts in The Corner end up playing respectable citizens in The Wire. Like The Wire, the writing for The Corner is top notch, as is the acting. I liked the way it was filmed. It’s a well put together show.

The Corner’s main theme, to me anyway, seems to be about the disintegration of the Black community (in Baltimore). Dutton examines how family ties are broken and warped, how the community no longer care for one another, how they are quick to turn on each other, etc. The Corner is an amazing look at the destruction wrought on Baltimore and cities like it by drugs, in more or less one generation. Throughout the series he uses incredibly short flash backs to hint at a more idyllic time, or to give the viewer insight into how a character’s fall may have come about. Like The Wire, the corner also can be seen as a critique of institutions. In this case, the “corner” and the destructive life of drugs and gangs that it represents is something the characters can not escape. Throughout the series characters make moves to try and remove themselves from their current circumstances, but more often than not those very same circumstances are what pull them back to the corner.

If you are a fan of The Wire, it’s well worth watching The Corner.

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The Wire

   24 March 2010, terribly early in the morning

We used to make shit in the country. Build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guys pocket. — Frank Sobotka

Apparently the second season of the Wire is the least popular of the lot. It’s definitely a big change of pace from the first season. All the gansters you’ve come to know and love are in the background for the most part, while the focus shifts to the plight of the blue collar American. The themes of the show seem to be very much the same. Good people are forced into bad situations. Everything is just out of reach. People in high places are usually dicks. I thought the second season was amazing. The writing is just as good as the first season, and it’s even more bleak. The four men playing the members of the Sobotka family all do an amazing job with their rolls. The second season is like a Greek tragedy.

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School's Out

   14 July 2009, terribly early in the morning

Degrassi Jr. High and Degrassi High ended on an incredibly bleak note with the School’s Out TV Movie. The film came out in 1992, when I was in grade 6. I remember watching it then. Shima and I watched it again last night. We have been watching the entire series over the last couple weeks. It’s interesting to compare the earlier episodes of the show with the later ones. When the show began, it was pretty obvious only a couple of the kids were actual actors. By the end, it seems that even those kids who couldn’t act took lessons. This is good, because some of the storylines in School’s Out would have been painful to watch with Degrassi Jr. High era wooden acting. School’s Out takes place a year after Degrassi High ends. There are lots of characters from the series notably absent, and some characters appear in the background, but don’t really have lines. (In this respect, it isn’t unlike a very long episode of the TV show.) The film’s main plot follows a love triangle between Joey, Catlin, and Tessa. A subplot involves Wheel’s fixing up a car so he can drive off to Calgary. If you haven’t seen the film, I’ll leave things at that. The movie is bleak. Some of the last scenes in the film seem particularly dark. School’s Out was a really scorched earth way to end the show, especially since the series finale for Degrassi High was fairly up beat. If you haven’t seen the original Degrassi series you’re missing out. It’s some of the best television ever made. Seriously. Well, maybe anyways.

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Lost Season 5

   19 May 2009, early evening

Season 5 of Lost was phenomal. I know I say that after everyone season concludes. This season in particular was something else: it was all kinds of inspired. My god. Lost continues to be one of the best shows on television — and i’m talking in the history of TV. I can’t believe people can put out a show that damn good. Holy shit. And what an ending. What are they going to do next season?

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But it's for the foster child

   29 April 2009, terribly early in the morning

I started watching Degrassi Jr. High with Shima yesterday. For each episode, I’d write a little twitter message about what we were watching and send it off. For the series premier:

Damn it Steph the boys are only voting for you because you skanked out. They don’t respect you. You sold out Voula for Joey!? #degrassi

The second episode is about Voula wanting to go to the school dance:

Oh Voula and your stereotypical vaguely ethnic immigrant father. He’s only strict because he loves you. You’re to young to do the dancing.

I’ve seen most if not all of Degrassi Jr. High several times now. Still, if you asked me about the specifics of this episode I’d be at a loss. The show was on so long ago, it’s hard to remember the details. Sometimes the Internet pisses me off. Stuff like this makes me happy:

@funkaoshi but it’s for the foster child

And it was!

Degrassi Jr. High is amazing. I had forgotten how well put together it was. Despite some bad acting and 80s cheesiness, it’s still very compelling and smart. Also, I love Catlin. (Who, surprisingly, has no lines 3 episodes in.)

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So Say We All

   21 March 2009, early evening

Battlestar Galactia ended its run on such a high note. The second half of season 4 was absolutely inspired. The series finale was great — except for the very very very end. And even that, I think I can forgive. Battlestar Galactica is excellent television. You need to watch it already.

I have no idea what to do with my life now.

My cousin thinks I’m a BSG apologist. So there are definitely mixed feelings over the finale.

Update: If people want to discuss the series in the comments, go nuts. So to all of you who haven’t seen the show or the finale yet don’t go reading the comments.

Update April 2014: It’s funny how different my feelings are about this finale now: I feel like they ruined the show. I should watch it all again some time.

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Holy Frak.

    7 February 2009, early afternoon

Battlestar Galactica is one of the best shows on TV. And anyone who doesn’t think so probably hasn’t sat and watched the show. Battllestar is finishing up this season. Clearly, the writers want to go out with a bang. 4 episodes in, and the show has gotten even more dark and depressing. God damn. My heart is beating a little faster.

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Buy Lucky Stripe Cigerettes!

   15 September 2008, terribly early in the morning

I’ve watched a few episodes of Mad Men now. The show is great, which I’m sure anyone who has heard mention of the show is well aware of. The show is about the people working at a Madison Avenue ad agency during the 50s. Like the Sopranos, what’s it’s actually about is a fair bit deeper than that. The whole show has a very bleak and depressing feel to it. Characters seem to feel trapped in their circumstance. Again, this is very reminiscent of the Sopranos. I quite like the show, but I have no idea how it isn’t being shut down for being essentially one long cigarette commercial. There must be money from the tobacco industry funding Mad Men. If not, they need to start asking for some. It really is all I can do not to go buy a pack midway through an episode.

I also have the biggest crush on Miss Joan Holloway.

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Battlestar Galactica Season 4

    2 September 2008, early evening

I love Battlestar Galactica. My god it’s so good. Season 4 started off a bit slow, but really does build to a great climax. The (half) season ended faster than I thought they would, and looked to end on a very high note. And then you have that last shot, and you remember what show you’re watching: bleak is the name of the game.

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Battle Star Season 4 Episode 7

   30 August 2008, mid-afternoon

Holy fucking shit. Update: Maybe I should have fleshed this post out a bit more. 3 more episodes to go and i’ll finish the first half of the 4th season of Battlestar Galactica. I have found season 4 thus far to be a bit slow, and not nearly as stressful as the prior seasons. There are a lot of interesting plot points, and the story is definitely still very good, but the sheer panic of the first few seasons is lost in the 4th. And then we get to this episode, episode 7, and you’re all, holy fucking shit.

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Smallville Season 6

   13 August 2008, late afternoon

I have to say that I had very few ‘oh my god what am I watching?’ moments as I made my way through Season 6 of Smallville. I’m not sure if my standards have sunk so low for the show, or if it actually was an interesting and entertaining season. I’m going to have to hope for the later, but I think i’m too close to the show to offer any informed opinion. There were a few standout episodes, but I don’t think they reached the highs of the earlier seasons. Lex continues to be the real star of the show in my eyes, and this season the writers seemed to have figured out how to set things up so he’s evil and yet sympathetic. There are a few unresolved plot points at the end of the season that could take his character in a couple directions. The whole Green Arrow subplot was enjoyable, although I suppose it was also cheesy at times. (I guess a show about teenage Superman is going to be cheesy no matter what you do.) The season finale was good, though not as totally insane as those of seasons past. Lots of death and destruction, but it wasn’t as over the top as Season 4 or 5, and not as intense as Season 2. (I liked how they introduced Bizarro Superman at the very end of the show, though.) The take away from all this is that Season 6 is a big step up from the last two seasons. Now I just need to wait for Season 7 to make it to DVD.

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Smallville Season 6 Begins (For Me)

    6 August 2008, early morning

I started watching Smallville Season 6 yesterday. I got through 4 episodes before calling it a day. Season 5 ended with a fair amount of craziness, but this craziness was resolved fairly quickly in the season premiere. The premiere sets up a lot of hopefully interesting subplots for the season. Episode 2 features Erica Durance jogging in a sports bra and short shorts, and Chloes also does some h8×0ring in Episode 3, so they definitely aren’t trying to break new ground in season 6. One of the best parts of the show was Lex’s internal conflict with himself. So far he hasn’t been as one dimensional as he was last season, but he certainly isn’t as interesting a character as he was before. His relationship with Clark is antagonistic now, which is also boring. Luckily there are a couple new characters that have been introduced to the cast that may make things interesting. I’ll have to wait and see how it goes. Till then I can count on Erica Durance to keep me going.

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Lost Season 4

    3 June 2008, terribly early in the morning

Sick at home yesterday, I took some time to watch the season finale of Lost. I’d spend the next new paragraphs swearing, making gunshot noises, and otherwise causing a ruckus, but none of that really works over the internet. Suffice it to say, I really liked this season. I can’t wait for next season. It’ll be interesting to see how they do things now that – well, I guess I should stop right there.

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Terminator: 90210

   26 February 2008, terribly early in the morning

The new Terminator show is great. If you liked the first two movies, I can’t imagine you not liking the new show. The show features a bunch of familiar faces: hot lady from 300 and Imagine Me and You, the Cheerleaders gay friend from Heroes, Summer from Firefly, and, most recently, Brian Austin Green from 90210. He shows up in episode 5. I thought to myself, “Damn, that dude totally looks like Brian Austin Green.” In fact, it was Brian Austin Green.

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Heroes Season 2 (well, "volume 2" anyway)

    3 January 2008, mid-afternoon

Shima and I finished watching Heroes Volume 2 a few days back. Volume 2 consists of the first half of Season 2, episodes 1 through 11. I’m not sure if this was intended, or if the writers strike caused them to cut the story short. From speaking to my friends, I wasn’t expecting much from the season. Tyler’s comment when I wrote about season 1 was particularly damming:

the start of season 2 is so bad that it retroactively ruins season 1. it’s kinda like Weezer’s 2005 release Make Believe, it’s so bad that it makes you re-evaluate the quality of their previous albums.

Harsh. I’m not sure season 2 is as bad as Tyler thought it to be, but it certainly isn’t very good. For starters, pretty much every single new hero they introduced is really annoying. I really was hoping they’d all be dead by the end of the season; sadly, this wasn’t to be. The season as a whole doesn’t really get going till episode 6 or 7. That’s kind of dumb pacing on their part. With season 1 you knew what the heroes were all fighting to stop by the 2nd episode. More than that, season 1’s ending was really exciting. Season 2 just didn’t end with that sort of drama; it was a bit of a let down. I still like the show, and i’m hoping for the second half of the season (assuming the show comes back) they do more with it. I like Heroes.

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Heroes Season 1

    3 December 2007, terribly early in the morning

It was my destiny to finish watching Heroes without Shima, so I spent most of the weekend finishing up the first season. When Shima and I watched the first episode a few weeks back we had no desire whatsoever to keep watching: the acting was bad, the dialog was bad, and the story went nowhere. Everyone else on the planet seemed obsessed with how awesome the show was, so Shima and I watched another episode: the second episode is much cooler and the ending is great. If the premier of the show was the first two episodes, then the pacing of the first episode would make a lot more sense. By the 4th or 5th episode the show starts to feel pretty solid. By then the actors all seem to have a good grasp of what their characters are about, so there are fewer awkward scenes to watch. The first season on the whole is very entertaining. By the last episode the overall story for the season is nicely resolved, with enough loose ends to start off the next season. (This is in contrast to a similar show like Lost, where the finales are exciting, but each season hasn’t resolved much of anything.) Heroes is good, contrary to what Mezan might tell you.

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If wishes were horses we'd all be eating steak.

   26 November 2007, terribly early in the morning

Shima and I watched the last two episodes of Firefly last night, and then stayed up a bit late to watch Serenity. I still can’t believe Fox canceled that show. (Well no, I can, but it still bugs me.) Firefly is so kick ass it’s such a shame it ends so abruptly. (That the last episode is particularly good is all the more painful.) Serenity does a reasonably good job of tying up some loose ends, but still leaves so many questions unanswered. I wish someone would give Josh Weadon a buck of money so he could make a couple more films. Or a mini-series. Anything really. There is so much good material in that show, and so many good characters, it’s a shame its all left untapped. Saffron? Early the Bounty Hunter? It’s such a classic show. If you haven’t seen Firefly you really need to.

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4 Down? 1 more to go.

   20 October 2007, lunch time

I just finished watching Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica. Man, I didn’t see that ending coming. Season 4 won’t start soon enough. Maybe one day whomever owns the rights to the show will put Season 3 out on DVD. For the time being it’s pretty easy to find on the Internet. Man I love this show.

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