The Fourth Annual Andy TV Awards – Best Shows

It’s been over a month since I started this thing, so I should probably get around to finishing it off with the two biggest awards. Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, you can reasonably predict how these two categories will go. For the preamble, including an explanation on what exactly the Andy TV Awards are, go here. Shows that received Emmy nominations in these two categories that I don’t watch, and thus had no chance of getting nominations here include House and Family Guy.
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March Recommendations

recommendation
Welcome to a new feature for this blog where I give quick recommendations from assorted pop culture categories of things I’m currently into. These things may or may not be current, but are things that I’m currently enjoying (or have recently enjoyed) that I think you (the reader) might enjoy as well. Provided that you enjoy things that are awesome.

In the past, I’d write reviews of things that I wanted to recommend, but I don’t have as much time to write those reviews as I used to, so instead of deciding how good something is, or weighing pros and cons, and all those things a responsible reviewer does, I’m just gonna come right out and say “I like these things. They are worthwhile”, which is basically what anyone is looking for when reading a review anyway. And because blogging can (and should) be a two-way street, please feel free to leave a comment with any recommendations you’d think I’d be into.
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Top 10 TV Episodes of 2008

Consider this the companion piece to my Top 10 TV Shows of 2008 list. Unlike that list, this one is a more standard year end list, only covering episodes that aired January 1st to December 31st. Because I’m judging thousands of episodes, there was a bunch of contenders for this list, many of which were bunched pretty closely near the end of the list, so I used the 8-10 spots for shows that missed my other list just to change things up.

NOTE: Since I’ll be talking about specific episodes, the write-ups will be necessarily spoilerish. For people who want to skim but remain unspoiled, the pictures are fairly unspoilery. On that note, I’ll reiterate that I haven’t caught up to The Shield, so please don’t spoil it for me by telling my how amazing the final was and how dumb I am for leaving it off this list (well okay, you can tell me that it’s awesome. Just please don’t tell me why).
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Top 10 TV Shows of 2008

It’s year end list season again, so it’s about time I got into the game. Actually, most publications and websites have already finished their year end lists, but those are written by people who get early screenings of things and, you know, don’t earn their money doing things other than writing blogs. So expect the movie list sometime at the end of January, and my album list between now and then. I’ll start with TV because it’s the list that doesn’t require any more time to take in the contents (because if I haven’t seen a season of a show yet, it’s too late to catch up). The rules for my year end TV list are a little different than most other year end lists, in that it doesn’t just cover things that took place within the calendar year of 2008. Television doesn’t operate on a January to December calendar (or at least network TV doesn’t), and I think it’s silly to try and judge a TV show from the back portion of one season and the front portion of another.

Instead, this list judges seasons that ended in 2008, including portions that began in 2007. If a season began in 2008, but is slated to return in 2009, then it is not under consideration for this list. Make sense? Acclaimed shows that I don’t watch, and thus won’t be appearing on this list include The Shield (I’m on season three), Battlestar Galactica, Chuck, Doctor Who, Pushing Daisies, and House. On to the list…
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TV Talk: My Television Schedule

Updated with new networks.
Here’s something many of you probably never expected to hear me say (or read me write for that matter): I watch too much TV. Okay, I don’t really mean that, at least not in the traditional sense. I don’t actually have a problem with the number of hours I spend in front of the television (well, okay, in front of the computer which is in front of the television), but rather the number of shows I’m currently watching.

What’s the issue? Well, every week it seems that most of my free time is spent keeping my DVR clear of the new shows that air, leaving me less time for other important matters, like movies or TV box sets (ha… and you thought I was going to say “reading”). This is an issue because there’s a good chunk of TV series that I’m currently following that aren’t as good as the ones I’d like to be watching on DVD (The Shield in particular). So I figured a good exercise would be to look at all the TV series currently airing new episodes that I follow, and maybe make some choices that will ease my burden (or, you know, “burden” as it were). After all, the last time I used this space to muse about a show that I no longer cared for, I cut the cord a week later.

Plus, I thought it could be fun for you all to see exactly what I’m watching, day by day. You know, if you were wondering.
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The Third Annual Andy TV Awards

The Emmy Awards are this weekend, and once again, the list of nominees are wrong. It’s impossible to please everyone, but the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences make it especially hard. It’s interesting: while the Oscars have drawn heat of late for the fact that their nominated pictures aren’t widely seen productions, the Emmy people continue to baffle critics by insisting on nominating popular (and inferior) shows like Two & a Half Men or Boston Legal. But it wasn’t all bad this year (you can see the Academy’s full list of nominees here, although you’re probably better off with an abridged version, like the one here), as they got around to recognizing some smaller cable shows like Dexter and Mad Men.

But rather than be one of those people who complains about the snubbing of one show or another, I’m one of those obsessives who will come up with my own list of nominees and winners to show just exactly who was snubbed and who wasn’t. In doing so, I do have some sympathy for Academy voters, as even an avid TV viewer such as myself can’t manage to watch every great show (although I do like to think that I watch more than the average Academy member). Among the highly-acclaimed shows that I haven’t seen (and thus will not be eligible for awards) include Battlestar Galactica (I know, I know… I will check it out eventually; at this point, I think it’s best to wait for the whole series to come out on DVD), Breaking Bad, Brothers & Sisters, Doctor Who, House, and Nip/Tuck.

Some ground rules: to qualify for nomination, a show must have aired most of its season, including its season finale, in the past 12 months. Unlike the Emmys, each category is limited to five nominees each (the Academy wimps out a few times with six nominees on occasion). To decide what shows belong where, and which actors belong where (i.e., comedy vs drama, lead vs supporting), I used the official ballot for performers (which you can see here), even in situations that don’t necessarily make sense. Also, my votes are based on entire seasons, not single episodes (except when appropriate). And best of all? No awkward monologue to start the show…
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TV Talk: The Barren Summer TV Landscape

I won't be watching most of these networks for a few months.

The end of the TV season is almost here. There’s a two-hour finale of Grey’s Anatomy tonight (that I hardly care about, but I watch because my wife does… even though she hardly cares now too), and the two-hour finale of Lost next week (which I am very excited about, as this has been the best season of the show since the first. Perhaps better even). Then that’s it, it’ll be time for broadcast television to go into hibernation mode.

Even though I’m an admittedly voracious consumer of television, I like the slow summer TV schedule (particularly since I’m also a voracious consumer of movies… and apparently not that much of a consumer of sunlight). It’s a great palette cleanser that allows me to get excited about shows again come fall. More than that, in recent years I’ve been able to use the three months of summer to catch up on shows on DVD that I would have otherwise missed. Last summer, we watched all five season of Six Feet Under, the first seasons of Dexter and Friday Night Lights, the first three seasons of The Wire, and re-watched the first season of Big Love, meaning that we probably ended up seeing better quality television from June-August than we did from September-May.

With that in mind, I figured I’d lay out my summer viewing plans here, and ask for any input any of you might have regarding how I might best use the months ahead (you know, besides silly stuff like getting outside to enjoy nature or whatever).
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TV Review: In Treatment – Season One

Keyser Soze?

In Treatment Season One

Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Blair Underwood, Dianne Wiest, Josh Charles, Embeth Davidtz, Melissa George, Mia Wasikowska, Michelle Forbes

Series Creator: Hagai Levi, developed by Rodrigo García
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Top 25 Characters from The Wire: Numbers 10 – 1


Numbers 25 through 11 can be found here.
A note on spoilers: because I know not everyone is caught up on all five seasons of this show, but I still want as many people to read this as possible (I’m vain that way), this list will be as spoiler-free as possible. I will have to reference some events in order to talk about the characters, but no major events will be discussed (especially the ultimate fate of any character). Also, since characters move up and down their career fields throughout the series, I’ll avoid referring to character by title as much as possible. When it is needed to refer to a character by their job title (i.e., Lieutenant, Judge, Mayor, etc), I’ll only refer to the job title the character holds when we are first introduced to them. That said, if anyone wants to get into spoilers, I’ll gladly do so via comments (with spoiler warnings).
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Top 25 Characters from The Wire: Numbers 25-11


I already had a lot to say about this series earlier, but didn’t get into the terrific cast of characters both because my post was already long, and I had this post in mind. If you’ve never watched the show, you may think a list of 25 characters is a touch of overkill. However, if you have watched it, you’re probably thinking to yourself: only 25?

There’s never been an ensemble as deep as that of The Wire, which completely eschewed stars and delved into the lives of dozens of characters and how they affect, and are affected by, the city of Baltimore. The cast grew exponentially as the seasons went on, with the show introducing several new characters at once in an attempt to expand the scope of the show and the picture of Baltimore. Managing all these characters was a Herculean task, one that the show managed on an incomparable level. All the characters mattered, and each fit into the puzzle perfectly. When you consider that other shows have difficulties managing casts of less than ten, you start to get an appreciation of what The Wire did with five times that amount. When putting together this list, I came up with a list of over 50 names of characters I enjoyed that were vital to the show, so that should give you an idea of why a list of 25 top characters is a perfectly acceptable number.

By “top 25”, I’m taking a few things into consideration. “Best” is too abstract an idea to apply to any type of standard, but I did try and decide which characters were the most unique, which actors performed the best in their roles, which characters were most significant for the show, who was the most memorable, etc. Then my personal tastes and favourites were factored in, and viola, a “Top 25” is made.

A note on spoilers: because I know not everyone is caught up on all five seasons of this show, but I still want as many people to read this as possible (I’m vain that way), this list will be as spoiler-free as possible. I will have to reference some events in order to talk about the characters, but no major events will be discussed (especially the ultimate fate of any character). Also, since characters move up and down their career fields throughout the series, I’ll avoid referring to character by title as much as possible. When it is needed to refer to a character by their job title (i.e., Lieutenant, Judge, Mayor, etc), I’ll only refer to the job title the character holds when we are first introduced to them. That said, if anyone wants to get into spoilers, I’ll gladly do so via comments (with spoiler warnings).
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TV Review: The Wire – The Complete Series

In five years when you discover this, you will know.

The Wire The Complete Series

Starring: Dominic West, John Doman, Idris Elba, Frankie R. Faison, Wood Harris, Deirdre Lovejoy, Wendell Pierce, Lance Reddick, Clarke Peters, Andre Royo, Sonja Sohn, Seth Gilliam, Larry Gilliard Jr, Domenick Lombardozzi, Michael K. Williams, Jim True-Frost, Delaney Williams, Corey Parker Robinson, J.D. Williams, Aidan Gillen, Jamie Hector, Robert Wisdom, Anwan Glover, Chad Coleman, Jermaine Crawford, Tristan Wilds, Maestro Harrell, Julito McCullum, Reg E. Cathey, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Robert F. Chew, Amy Ryan, Glynn Turman, Paul Ben-Victor, Pablo Schreiber, Chris Bauer, James Ransone, Clark Johnson, Thomas McCarthy, Michelle Paress, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Neal Huff, Michael Kostroff

Series Creator: David Simon
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Top 10 TV Shows of 2007

Year-end TV lists are difficult things, as network TV follows a different schedule than January-December. Some writers go ahead and try to cram TV in the January-December calendar, judging two half seasons put together, but that’s just silly. Instead, this list judges seasons that ended in 2007, including portions that began in 2006. If a season began in 2007, but is slated to return in 2008 (whenever that may be), then it is not under consideration for this list. Make sense?

Acclaimed shows that I don’t watch, and thus won’t be appearing on this list include The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, Ugly Betty, Rescue Me, Brothers & Sisters, Mad Men, Flight of the Conchords, and House. On with the list…
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TV Talk: The New Fall TV Season – New Show Overview (2007)

TV Talk: The New Fall TV Season – New Show Overview (2007)

Instead of doing reviews for every new pilot I watched over the past couple of weeks (which I really didn’t have time for), I figured I’d just combine them all into mini-reviews in one post, judging each on whether or not I would continue watching the series. Each series will be listed in the order in which its pilot debuted, along with the network and time slot it occupies.
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TV Review: The Wire – Season One

That's one simian-looking dude.

The Wire Season One

Starring: Dominic West, John Doman, Idris Elba, Frankie R. Faison, Wood Harris, Deirdre Lovejoy, Wendell Pierce, Lance Reddick, Andre Royo, Sonja Sohn, Seth Gilliam, Larry Gilliard Jr

Series Creator: David Simon
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