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Canceled Favorites

I’ve been hearing for the last week or so about shows that are being canceled and those that are being renewed for next season, and I’m a little depressed. A bunch of shows that I decided to try (many of which I like) are being canceled.

Some of the cancellations are not surprising, like NYC 22. I’m also not that surprised that Breaking In and Bent are being canceled, although I really liked them. GCB was one of my guilty pleasures. I didn’t look forward to it every week, but when I had some extra time, I’d catch up. Some shows I won’t miss, even though I watched regularly. Unforgettable tops that list. I liked the premise of the show, but something about the main character bugs me. Maybe it’s the actress, but there have been too many times that she’s come across as an airhead. Awake is a show that I’ve watched, but I have a bunch of episodes on my DVR to catch up on. Now I’m questioning if I should bother.

There are three shows that are chopped that I will miss. Missing doesn’t surprise me. I mean, really, how long could you draw out a single kidnapping? But I watched it every week. The Finder is another show that’s a little on the weird side, but since it aired on Fridays, it gave me something to watch over the weekend. The one show that’s being canceled that I think I’ll miss the most is Alcatraz. I like everything about that show. It had unique characters with some baggage, small conflicts in the search for the weekly criminal, and the overall plot arc of how and why the 63s were in 2012.

Image taken from Amazon

I will say that I’m happy that my truly favorite shows have been renewed — Revenge, Castle, Blue Bloods, Mentalist, Criminal Minds, and Bones. I have all of the episodes of Scandal on the DVR but haven’t watched them yet. Since it too is being renewed, I think I’ll catch up. Body of Proof has also been renewed, and I’ve watched pretty regularly, but if I could trade this for Alcatraz, I would.

The list I used to double check things I heard on Twitter is here. With all of these cancellations, I certainly hope there are good shows in the works for next year, otherwise, how will I fill all of my free time?

What show are you sorry to see go?

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Summer TV

I think we can all agree that I watch too much TV and the invention of the DVR has simply enabled me to watch more. But given all the vices I don’t have in my life, I think this one is acceptable. I’ve said it before — the best thing about cable TV is the seemingly never-ending supply of new episodes of something. It used to be that the TV season ran from September through May (with plenty of reruns along the way). Cable has redefined what a TV season is and I love it. Just as regular network stations are getting into reruns, favorites on cable start fresh. This summer, I have a whole bunch that I’m looking forward to.

First up, The Glades. This is another cop show. I was originally sucked into this one because the lead character, Jim Longworth, is a cop from Chicago, who moves to Florida. The cases he solves are pretty standard fare, but again, it’s the characters that draw me in. He gets involved with a nurse, who is a single mother, and still married. But her husband is in jail. Last season, the husband was released and Callie had some decisions to make. The Glades returns on June 3.

Another cop show I’m waiting for is The Closer. This is the last 6 episodes for this show. Admittedly, I mostly watch because I love Fritz. He’s too good for Brenda. The Closer will air on July 9.

Rizzoli & Isles is coming back on June 5. I’ve briefly mentioned my love for this show before, along with my girl crush on Angie Harmon.

I have 2 lawyer shows I’m looking forward to. The first is Franklin & Bash. This show feels

like Boston Legal, which is why I like it. There’s some good TV lawyering going on, but nothing too serious. The lead characters are good at what they do, but they act like kids a good portion of the time, which makes them fun to watch. Franklin & Bash returns June 5.

The other lawyer show is Suits. I love this show because the main characters are little more than conmen. Harvey is super-genius lawyer. Mike is a genius who has faked his way into a job as a lawyer (without ever attending law school or taking the bar for himself). Together they make a great team. Suits is coming back June 14.

Covert Affairs is one of my guilty pleasures. The show is not credible and Annie Walker as a CIA agent is not believable even for a moment, but it’s fun to watch. Plus I like Augie. Covert Affairs will air July 10.

Leverage is coming back July 16. You gotta love the bad guys who are the good guys. Think A-Team without blowing things up (usually).

The show I can’t wait for, however, is True Blood. It’s heading into its 5th season. Honestly, it’s a fluke I started watching. I’d heard a lot of buzz when it premiered. Then one night, I had laundry to fold and it was on, and I never looked back. I watched the entire season and then for Christmas, my husband bought me all of the Sookie Stackhouse books which are the inspiration. I like the books (at least the first 8 or so) but I love the show for entirely different reasons. It’s sexy and suspenseful and mysterious and just plain great stuff (unless blood makes you squeamish).

Here’s a little taste (no pun intended) of the vampires:

Here’s the trailer for season 5:

What summer show are you most looking forward to?

Revisiting House of Lies & the Anti-Hero

A few months ago, I blogged about a new show, House of Lies. I liked the premise of the show and with it being on Showtime, I knew that there would be a certain shock factor. Of course, the show delivered. If you’ve never seen it, the show follows a business management consultant and his pod (team) as they rip companies off.

It’s an interesting, and I believe pretty true-to-life, representation of some business management consultants. When I wrote about this last time, I wasn’t sure if I would continue to watch the show because after three or four episodes, I found that I really didn’t like the main character, Marty (played by Don Cheadle). People told me to hang on, that we’d probably get to see some more redeeming qualities in Marty.

While I didn’t rush to my TV every week to watch the new episode, I didn’t delete the timer, either. When I had some extra time, I caught up on episodes. In my last post, I questioned whether Marty could be considered an anti-hero because I didn’t see any redeeming qualities in him. After watching the entire season, I can admit that the show did allow peeks into some of Marty’s vulnerabilities and there were some redeeming qualities to Marty.

He truly loves his son Roscoe, who is figuring out his sexual identity. Marty handles this well and I don’t doubt his love for his son.

Marty also appears loyal to his pod, but I do question that loyalty. By the end of the season, although I wanted to believe that Marty would stand by his team, I still felt that everything he did was to manipulate them to achieve the outcome he wanted.

Mid-way through the season, Marty supposedly fell in love. I believe he cared for April, but I’m not sure this man even understands what it means to love someone. Bottom line, he leads with his dick and his ego and does whatever he wants regardless of the consequences.

That is the sticking point for me. While I believed an anti-hero needed some redeeming qualities, Marty has taught me that it’s more than that. Even though I can see that Marty loves his son and he struggles to deal with his mother’s suicide, it’s not enough for me to want to continue to watch him. And this is why:

An anti-hero has to at least appear to be redeemable.

The anti-heroes that I can believe in have more than just redeeming qualities. There’s something about them that makes them more…human. They have some kind of moral compass, even if it’s not one that coincides with mine.

Batman doesn’t let anyone get close to him and I believe that is because he tries to protect others from getting hurt. He won’t let himself have the pleasure of a “normal” life. He’s a man on a mission, and his mission, although it feeds into something on a personal level for him, does good for society.

Dexter is much the same way. He’s a truly screwed up individual, but he lives by a code, an honorable code. He’s a good father who also happens to be a killer. Dexter does everything in his power to protect those he cares about including his son and his sister. He only kills bad guys, ones that fit the code.

For both Batman and Dexter it’s more than just having likable qualities or vulnerabilities that make them anti-heroes. They do things that don’t quite fit into the norm of what is expected for a hero, but I think that if their personal experiences had been different, if their worlds had changed early on, they could be true heroes.

This wouldn’t hold true for Marty. I can’t imagine Marty doing anything heroic because that would require him to put someone else before himself. Marty is too selfish and egotistical for that. He ruins lives around him. He has little or no regard for anyone else. I don’t believe there’s any hope for Marty.

Now that the season is over, I don’t know that I’ll watch next year. The show itself is well-written and enjoyable, but like I’ve said lots of times, for me, it’s all about character.

And I really don’t like this character.

Do you watch House of Lies? Do you enjoy watching anti-heroes?

I Wish I’d Known

On Thursdays, I usually talk about TV and sometimes relate it to writing because, really, you can learn so much about writing from TV, both the good and the bad. I watch a lot of TV and the invention of the DVR has only aided this addiction. Shows that I wouldn’t have given a shot because of time slot now get my attention as possibilities. I still come across shows that aren’t quite my taste (House of Lies), but I’m glad I’m giving more shows a chance because you never know if you’ll miss out on something great (like Lost Girl).

There are quite a few shows that I didn’t watch from the beginning that I now wish I had. While it’s true that I still might not continue to tune in, it would’ve been nice to know for sure.

image from tvequals.com

One show that I tried this season in Being Human. A werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost live together in a house, trying to feel human. It sounds great. This show is in its second season and I hadn’t heard about it before. (Thank you Tiffany White for pointing out too many things for me to watch.) I watched the first couple of episodes of this season, and while I had no problems following along with the storylines, I didn’t fall in love with it. I think part of that failure isn’t the show itself, but because I hadn’t watched season 1. I think for most shows, that first season is critical for falling in love with the characters.

One show that I’ve heard nothing but great things about that I haven’t watched is Downton Abbey. The second season just aired and I know I can watch season 1 on Netflix, but because I didn’t do that before season 2 started, I feel like I’ll always be playing catch up. I’m not sure if I want to start it and continuously be behind everyone else.

It’s the time of year where networks start up some new shows as mid-season replacements. All of our favorites take breaks and new shows fill in. It’s a nice test market. Some of the new ones I’m going to try are Awake, Missing, and GCB.

Awake is about a man who is in a car accident. His mind creates two realities. In one, his wife survives, in the other, his son survives. He doesn’t know which one is real and he doesn’t care. He goes to bed with his wife alive and wakes up with his son alive. He doesn’t want to lose either, so it should be interesting to watch it unravel.

Missing stars Ashley Judd, who although she’s getting old, still looks great and takes on some awesome roles. In the show, she is a retired CIA agent who travels to Europe to track down her missing son. I love a kickass heroine and the fact that she’s a mom is even better.

GCB looks like brain candy. Nothing serious, fun fluff for relaxation. It’s about a former “Queen Bee” who returns to her hometown of Dallas after her divorce. She moves her two kids in with her mom and has to face everyone she tormented in high school.

Which shows are planning on tuning in for? Are there any you wished you’d watched and feel like you missed out on?

PS – If you want more information on any of these shows, I’m pretty sure Tiffany White has covered them in much greater depth. Check out her blog.

The Anti-Hero and House of Lies

A new show started on Showtime this past Sunday. It airs right after one of my favorites, Shameless (which I posted about last week), so I decided to give it a shot. The show is called House of Lies and stars Don Cheadle as a management consultant. The show’s pace is fast and the characters are interesting, but I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll continue to watch and here’s the reason: I’m not sure I can get behind Marty (Cheadle’s character). Here’s a trailer for the show, but it is not safe for work:

For me, TV is mostly about falling for characters, so this is a sticking point. I spent some time thinking about it, which led me to decide that Marty is an anti-hero. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, I sought out what I thought would be the best definition. This comes from LearnHub:

Defining the Anti-Hero

The definition of an anti-hero can be subjective. He is usually the protagonist or a key character. Generally, an anti-hero will have the following qualities:

  • it is clear that he has human frailties; he has flaws
  • he is more accessible to readers because he is more “gritty”
  • he is often disillusioned with society, or increasingly becomes so
  • he often seeks redemption or revenge for his own satisfaction, and sometimes for the greater good of society
  • unlike the classical tragic hero, he doesn’t always think about what the right, moral thing to do – he often thinks about what’s right for him
  • he is often misunderstood by others in his society
  • he could perhaps be called a noble criminal or a vigilante
  • qualities normally belonging to villains – such as amorality, greed and violent tendencies – are tempered with more human, identifiable and even noble traits
  • their noble motives are pursued by breaking the law; a.k.a. “the ends justify the means”
  • increased moral complexity and rejection of traditional values

Now, I have absolutely nothing against the anti-hero. One of the best anti-heroes on TV right now is Dexter and I adore Dexter. Dexter is a serial killer who targets those who escaped punishment for their wrongdoings. He is a vigilante, but you see a softer side to him when it comes to his son and his sister. Also, he lives by a code where he needs to prove (to himself) that the criminal deserves to die.

The cast of characters from Leverage would also be considered anti-heroes. They steal. No matter how you slice it, what they do is illegal. This is mitigated by the fact that they commit crimes to help those in need. They fund their entire operation themselves, but it is with money gained from the first job they pulled together. Money from ill-gotten gains.

In looking at Marty and comparing him to the list above, I think my problem with him is that I don’t find much to like about him. I don’t see the bad qualities being tempered with good ones. I think the rest of the list suits him perfectly. I don’t see “increased moral complexity,” just amorality. And I’m not sure that’s enough to keep me tuning in.

Did you watch House of Lies? What did you think? How about anti-heroes — love ’em or hate ’em?

The Return of Old Friends (and they’re not all cops)

Ahh…now that the holidays are over, we get back to the important stuff: good TV. 🙂 Of course, many of our regular shows will pop up with new episodes (I’m looking at you, Castle). But for me, I also look forward to the  return of some favorite mid-season shows.

First up, Southland. I really thought this show had gotten canceled. It started out on network TV and was cut. Then TNT picked it up. In case you’ve never seen it, the show’s about LA cops (big surprise, right?). What makes this show unique is that it isn’t about one department or division solving a big crime each week. It follows a few detectives and a few uniformed cops. We get snippets of their personal lives, but because it’s such a big cast of characters to follow, you don’t spend a lot of time with any one character. Mostly, we get to see what being a cop does to these people. We see them doing the boring parts of the job as well as the exciting parts. While I do watch this show every week, and I look forward to its return, I can’t say I’m excited. Kind of like when an old friend is coming to visit; you’re happy to see him, but you don’t get all hot and bothered over it.

Now, Justified, on the other hand, really heats things up. The show is based on an Elmore Leonard story, so you know its roots are solid. Raylan Givens (played by the very sexy Timothy Olyphant) is a U.S. Marshall with a hot temper. He has a habit of shooting people who come up against him. Every shooting, though, turns out to be justifiable, hence the name of the show. During season 1, Raylan was transferred

back to Kentucky where he grew up. He has strong ties (not necessarily good ones) to Harlan County. The cast of characters is diverse and real, but it is Raylan who brings me back each week. He’s a damaged hero, but you don’t know that right away. He seems pretty put together on the outside, but his ex-wife pointed out, “You’re one of the angriest men I know.” And it’s true. That anger pops out and although he doesn’t turn into a raving lunatic, you see it in his eyes. Not a man I’d want to cross. Putting all that aside, the plot lines are drawn from real life. Real people trying to survive in small towns in a crappy economy — drugs, gangs, and coal mining.

The show that I am really excited about is Shameless. This is another show that we Americans stole from the Brits. I’ve only caught part of one episode of the British version, so I can’t say whether it’s any good. I am totally in love with the American version, though. I love this show for so many reasons: 1. It takes place in Chicago (who doesn’t like to see their hometown on TV?) and the producers do it right., 2. It’s about the Gallaghers, a large Irish family (you remember my post on Blue Bloods?), and 3. The family is so real, yet unique and damaged that you want to see what will happen.

William H. Macy plays Frank, the good-for-nothing drunk father. Mom took off a long time ago, leaving eldest child, Fiona in charge. Fiona is in her early twenties and she’s become mom to this group, at the expense of her own life. Lip (Philip) comes next in line. He’s a genius, but doesn’t even seriously consider furthering his education to make life better, mostly because he has no role models to look to. Ian is next. He’s ROTC and gay. He hides being gay because a white Irish boy on the south side of Chicago isn’t supposed to be that way. Debbie wants a normal family; Carl is a serial killer in training; and Liam is a biracial baby. What I love most about this family is that they’re not just dysfunctional. They are a hot stinking mess, but they have great coping skills. They make life work. Every time it looks like something will finally go their way, it seeps from their grasp (usually because of something Frank does).

This season the episodes are all supposed to take place over the summer, which should make things even more interesting. Last year it was winter in Chicago and the kids had school. Winter in Chicago is pretty yucky, but summertime is great. Plus, the episodes are going to air while it really is winter here. I can’t wait.

(Video not safe for work)

What returning shows are you most looking forward to?

Family Dinner – Blue Bloods Style

One of my favorite semi-new shows is Blue Bloods. Yes, it’s another cop show, but this one focuses more on the Reagan family than the crimes themselves. The Reagans are an Irish Catholic family in New York. The whole family is cops, except for Erin, the only daughter, who is a DA. There’s so much I love about the show. The family is dominated by men, but they are good, loving men who put family first. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tom Selleck and Donny Wahlberg star in the show.

One thing that stands out for me is that this family eats Sunday dinner together every week. Even if there’s a big case, everyone at least makes an appearance at the dinner table. It’s also about a whole lot more than just eating. When you have the whole family together, the conversation can be argumentative, hurtful, funny, or heartfelt.

Here’s a clip from a dinner scene:

An even better dinner scene is from the last episode (season 2, episode 9, “Moonlighting”). I couldn’t find a clip, but you can watch it for free on-line. The dinner scene there is wonderful because Jamie is beaten to a pulp earlier in the episode and everyone is talking about it. Then they make jokes about how he hid evidence (he swallowed it), which evolved into family stories of all of the things Jamie swallowed over the years. You learn so much about the characters from the way they interact at the family dinner.

Part of me also loves this show because I’m writing about an Irish Catholic family (set in Chicago, not cops) in my books. Although they don’t do family dinner weekly, they do commit to everyone getting together at least once a month. Often, it’s more than that. Like the Reagans, my O’Learys use the dinner table to air grievances and celebrate victories.

In real life, I’m bad at the whole family dinner thing. We do eat together, but the TV is usually on. We tend to spend our quality time in other ways. The kids like to watch TV while they eat because it gives them some downtime in between all of their activities (and there are lots). We get the same laughter and banter as the Reagans, but ours tends to happen in the car instead of at the dinner table.

How about you? Do you do big family meals on a regular basis?