For a guy who makes his living writing for film and television, I don’t watch a lot of either – certainly nowhere near as much as you guys. To be perfectly honest, I’d rather just read a good book. Having said that, there are about a dozen or so shows I do follow. Some I enjoy, others I’ve lost interest in and will probably drop after this season.
On the small screen at my place…
THE AMAZING RACE
My buddy Carl used to call this show “the fastest hour on television”. Lately, however, the show seems to have lost a lot of the fun that made it so watchable. The challenges are becoming a little less original, the contestants a little more predictable, and some of the rules and roadblocks damn annoying if not altogether unfair. I mean, what’s the point of having these individuals race to catch a ferry if it will only take them to a destination in which they’ll have to wait hours to perform the next task, thereby rewarding stragglers and general incompetence. And then there’s the convenience of “certain aspects of the production” favoring certain teams. I refer, of course, to the hated “non elimination round” that, curiously, always seems to favor the most colorful and amiable duo in the race. Season ago, it was the hippies (who went on to win). This season, it was those lovable country bumpkins Bopper and (Bopper II?). After coming in last on one leg of the race, I turned to Akemi and said: “This is a non-elimination leg.” And, sure enough, it was. Now, I’m not saying the fix is in but, when two weeks later, they came in last again and I predicted “Another non-elimination leg.”, I wasn’t all that surprised to be proven right. Not even a late visit to Japan where contestants took part in a “Japanese game show” (clearly a version of a “Japanese game show” fabricated for that leg of the race) or a late screw-up by the winning duo could save this lacklustre season. Verdict: WE’RE DONE.
SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD
Equally predictable was this season of Survivor where everything has pretty much gone as expected. It hasn’t helped that this season’s contestants are either gutless or idiots, allowing the two or three players with an iota of intelligence to run the table on them. It’s reached the point where I can tell who is going to be eliminated by simply seeing how the promo is cut. For what it’s worth, I’m rooting for Sabrina and, to a lesser extent, Chelsea, but suspect they’ll both be undone by their naiveté. About the only thing that could redeem this season in my eyes would be a shocking final vote that would see perennially clueless Christina win because nobody saw her as a threat. When all is said and done, it’s all in the hands of the jury. The bitter, petty, resentful, revenge-minded jury. The best player doesn’t always win the game. Ask Russell Hantz. Although this season has underwhelmed, it was preceded by some great ones so I’m willing to give the show another go. VERDICT: WE’RE STILL WATCHING.
Speaking of predictable, the House formula usually goes something like this: House handed case which he refuses to accept at first but ends up taking because he is intrigued by some curious element. His team pursues various diagnostic theories, all of which prove erroneous. All hope seems lost when – some unconnected word, phrase or thing twigs something in House who comes up with the correct diagnosis and saves the day. While the medical drama plays out, House and his team deal with personal issues – and this is what makes the show so great. Yes, the medical narrative pretty much plays out paint by numbers but, in reality, it’s only serves to create a dramatic context for our characters, and it’s these characters that make the show so very watchable. I love the House character, his relationship with Wilson, and like the team a lot (especially Taub who has really grown on me over this past season). With only two episodes to go, I suspect the series will go out in fine style. VERDICT: WE’RE DONE – BUT ONLY BECAUSE IT’S DONE.
Some gags hit the mark, some fall flat, but the rapidfire barrage ensures a hilarious half hour. BTW – television producers, take note: Live episodes work wonderfully for comedies since their actors are accustomed to improv. Dramas – not so much. VERDICT: WE’RE STILL WATCHING.
A lot better than most comedies on television, none of which I watch. And I miss Michael Scott. VERDICT: WE’RE DONE AFTER THIS SEASON.
Sixteen seasons and still going strong. Sure, there have been a few hiccups along the way (the movie, any episode involving Terrence and Philip), but I’m amazed by how its consistency. Smart, shocking, and hilarious. VERDICT: WE’RE STILL WATCHING (AKEMI IS A BIG CARTMAN FAN).
Although I didn’t love last season finale quite as much as everyone else, this show nonetheless ranks among my all-time favorites (up there with The Sopranos and Rome). I’m very much looking forward to the fifth and final season. I have a feeling it’s not going to be a happy ending for Mr. White. VERDICT: STILL WATCHING.
GAME OF THRONES
The book is always better and this holds true for Game of Thrones – nevertheless, the series if very, very good. Like the book series, however, with its myriad storylines and endless characters, there are some arcs that I find absolutely gripping (the politics and power plays at King’s Landing, Arya’s journey, Jon Snow’s adventures with the Black Watch) while others (Daenerys and her dragons, happenings in Westeros, the North, and the Iron Islands) leave me cold. Still, there’s so much going on in each episode that it never disappoints. VERDICT: STILL WATCHING.
THE WALKING DEAD
As much as I love the original comic book series, I think I’m zombied out. Great monster effects and some intriguing scenarios, but for the life of me I don’t understand how a shambling zombie can sneak up on someone. VERDICT: I’M DONE.
I tuned into the first season expecting a 300 clone and was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the characters and the storytelling. The performances were also a strong point, especially that of series lead Andy Whitfield who, sadly, passed away just as he was gaining some well-deserved international praise. I checked out the miniseries, Gods of the Arena, with a certain amount of trepidation brought on by the usual negative feelings I harbor for prequels. Like the first season, however, I was quickly won over. How has the show’s second season fared in comparison? To be honest, I don’t know. My DVR screwed up and I have all but episode 2 recorded. And until it airs again – or I am able to track it down online – I’ll have to reserve judgement. On the bright side, I can, apparently, buy the soundtrack from iTunes.
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
At first, I was on the fence because I felt some of the early storylines were too reminiscent of South Park episode I had seen (although, in all fairness, South Park ended updoing an episode called “Simpsons Already Did It” in which Professor Chaos [aka Butters] laments the fact that every nefarious idea he comes up with has already been done on The Simpsons). But, like most shows, once you settle in and get to know and like the characters, you’re along for the ride. The show’s two major funny men remind of my former Stargate co-workers Damian Kindler and Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, so every time I watch the show I feel like I’m getting together with old friends. VERDICT: STILL WATCHING.
I watch a fair amount of Food Network. Not religiously. It just happens to be on all the time as background so the dogs don’t miss us too much when we go out. But if there’s one show we never miss, it’s Top Chef, the best of the competitive cooking shows. VERDICT: WE’RE STILL WATCHING.
CHUCK’S DAY OFF
Our favorite cooking show is hosted by Chuck Hughes, a native of my hometown, Montreal. Port braised lamb shanks, peanut butter and jelly foie gras, bone marrow mash, and home made doughnuts – he cooks the type of food I love. And I can confirm this because I visited his restaurant the last time I was in Montreal. He’s charming, informative and Akemi finds him all sorts of cute. VERDICT: WE’RE STILL WATCHING.