Characters Don’t

I’m always amazed when I read books and watch television at the grand scope of the lives of the characters that I become entranced with. Tally Youngblood stops a war and causes the mind rain in the Uglies Series. Joan and Sherlock of Elementary spend their time detonating small bombs and putting away bad guys.

When I put my kindle down and turn off the TV the only thing that awaits me is a pile of dirty dishes and a message from a friend asking if I want to hang out later. What will be my grand moment? Graduating college? Seems a bit trite compared to solving crime or saving the world.

The only times we ever see characters in fiction doing the normal, boring, everyday chores we are constantly bogged down by is at the very beginning or end of scenes. Before or after the more important and vital portions of the story are mentioned.

Just for today, let’s take a moment to imagine them being done by the main characters from some favorite TV shows.

Leslie Knope looking for a parking space.
Alicia Floric washing dirty dishes.
Abed Nadir taking out the trash.
Patrick Jane going to the grocery store.
The Doctor checking the mail.
Will MacAvoy watering plants.
Any of the Downton Abbey characters watching TV.

These people’s lives seem richer and fuller than ours, simply because they’ve cut these parts out. I’m not saying that we should change the way these things are made. More that we should imagine our lives with all these parts cut out. Yes, we have to dust the furniture, and cook meals for ourselves, but if our lives were as fantastical as those of the character we love? We would still have to do those things, we would only be so much more focused on the fun, romantic, or adventurous portions of our lives that we wouldn’t even notice the mundane background tasks.

 

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My Year in Television 2013

As we near the end of the year I like to reflect on all the things I watched over the course of the year.  Warning: this is a LOOOONG post.  I watch a lot of TV.  I find that it’s good for me to keep track of things and when I’ve watched them, but just know that it’s kind of a lot.

I spent most of January and February at home in San Francisco, and took over the DVR as much as I could. I continued watching Elementary and Once Upon A Time, as well as being supremely excited about Community‘s return in February.

There are a handful of shows that overlap between what I like to watch and what my parents watch. We would watch Downton Abbey the night it aired, and we began House of Cards together. I also watched some of the shows my parents watched such as American Pickers and American Restoration. I left would leave whenever they started up Dog the Bounty Hunter. I have to draw the line somewhere.

During the day I would watch DVDs and Netflix. I finished Band of Brothers and re-watched Luther to prepare for my semester. I watched Leverage episodes as in order as I could find them. I wrote about Angel on the blog and got really into web series. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and a handful of others.

In March I moved to LA in a strange housing situation, and set all my usual recordings. I watched Doctor Who and saw a few episodes of Orphan Black that were fantastic. I wrote a spec of Luther that was the most complete script I’ve ever written. I’m proud of it, but I’m not sure it’s something that I’ll be able to use in the future.

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I spent most of April waiting for a phone call that never came. I watched documentaries on Netflix and rented DVDs from the library. Most notably I rented Roots and got through at least half of the series. In finished House of Cards and joined the rest of those who finished but didn’t want to spoil anyone else. With no word from school and no reason to stay in my weird housing set up I went back to San Francisco at the end of the month.

At home I dove back into my old routine of watching TV with my parents. I got back into shows that I had taken a long break on. I returned to my first television love, CSI and started watching Major Crimes when it returned in June. When I watched by myself I watched episode after episode of The Good Guys, finishing the entire series in record time.

June also saw the release of Much Ado About Nothing, which I first saw at the San Francisco International Film Festival. I know it’s technically not TV, but anything Joss Whedon feels TV-esque to me, and the cast is full of my favorite Whedon TV people, so I’m going to say it half-counts. Also half counting would be web series. I’m never quite sure where to put them, but over the summer I watched Welcome to Sanditon and An Autobiography of Jane Eyre.

In July I returned to LA just in time to start my summer semester in LA. I was a bit slow to set up internet access and TV, but when I finally did I pulled together all the recordings I could ever want. In between classes I watched Major Crimes, King and Maxwell, Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, and Camp. I happened upon a Blue Ray of The Newsroom and watched the entire first season quickly in order to prepare for season two which happened to fall within my HBO free trial.

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Through my class, I found myself at San Diego Comic Con without much of a plan at all. I was woefully under prepared, but managed to make the best I could of the one day I had. I wandered the expo hall in awe and waited in line to see the Once Upon A Time pirate ship. I went to a panel for Husbands, the web series I was a PA for last year and got a chance to talk with a few of the people I had connected with there. All in all a good, if a little overwhelming, day.

As the summer ended I said good-bye to all my summer favorites, and geared up for premiere season. While a friend of mine was in town we went to see a taping of Mom, a new show because we both love Allison Janney. It was fun to be in the audience (I think it was the 4th episode), but neither of us fell in love with the show. Certainly something I would do again, and a great idea for people who are visiting from out of town.

In September I started online classes and internships and a whole slew of new shows. I watched or recorded everything. NCIS, Elementary, CSI, Parks and Rec, The Middle, Modern Family, Once Upon A Time, The Good Wife, and The Mentalist on the returning side. I started watching Agents of SHIELD, Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, Trophy Wife, and The Crazy Ones of new shows. I’ve stuck with most of these to varying degrees. While all of the ones listed are still being recorded, there are a few I’m woefully behind on.


There were two shows that weren’t even on my radar at the beginning of the season, but I wound up recording on a whim and then LOVING. The first is Sleepy Hollow, which I recorded because it was mentioned at one of my internships and wound up completely blowing me away. Now that I look back I vaguely remember seeing some Sleepy Hollow things at Comic Con, but think that it wouldn’t be for me. WRONG! I also wound up recording Brooklyn Nine-Nine because I was recording Dads. While I’m not a fan of Dads, I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

As the semester got started I returned to Leverage and started Orange is the New Black. I watched movies and TV pilots for my internships and fell behind on a lot of current TV. November brought on the 300th episode of CSI, and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special. Thanksgiving rolled right into December and the live Sound of Music production. I have mixed feelings on the event, but do hope that the fantastic ratings will encourage networks to do similar things in the future.

As the year comes to an end I will be watching the Bonnie and Clyde mini-series, and tuning in for the mid-season finales of the shows listed above. I’ve finally caught up on a few and will continue to watch as the new year begins. While TV is on a break, I’ll be finishing shows that I can catch on Netflix including Leverage and Orange is the New Black.

This year has been full of great TV shows, and I’m excited for the year to come. What shows did you watch this year? Any favorites I’m missing?

What I’ve Been Watching (Summer 2013 Recap)

I love TV. I love a lot of different kinds of TV and even the TV that I don’t love I understand the existence of. Even in the dead of summer, there’s still a lot more TV around than people sometimes realize. This summer was a pretty good year for some of my favorite summer shows, and will continue to be for another couple of weeks while these shows, and others, finish out their run.

Of course I’m happy to see that’s it’s once again New Series advertising season (every bus in town is plastered with a new Fall show), I’ll be sad to see some of these shows go. Without further ado, a brief rundown of my summer favorites.

King and Maxwell
I love TNT shows. They tend to have great, slightly quirky, but always respectable procedural in the works that I’d be happy to watch till the cows came home. This one is no exception. King and Maxwell (one of whom is Rebecca Romijn!) are two former Secret Service Agents turned private investigators after an incident in the service. It’s set in DC, which makes me smile even when they don’t get it quite right.
They’ve also got Dichen Lachman who’s fantastic! It’s procedural, with a little bit of serial in there, with a few out there characters, and a bit of a will-they-wont-they thing going on between the two leads. A bunch of my favorite things all mushed together to make sure I tune in every week (Or every other week and a few days late on my DVR, but nonetheless).

Major Crimes
King and Maxwell‘s constant companion, I can’t watch K&M without a side helping of Major Crimes. A friend of mine thinks I’m a middle-aged woman for liking this show, but I don’t even care. It’s corny at times and pretty clearly not aimed towards my age bracket, but I kind of love it. I like seeing a show set in LA, filmed in LA, and referencing the obvious fact that we’re in LA and we’re going to run into some industry people. Maybe not as many as are on the show, but still, it’s fun.
Especially fun for me since my school’s classes were on the same studio lot that this show filmed. We would see cast members and crew in passing and one of my classes managed to get a tour of the set.

Risoli and Isles
I’ll admit that most of the summer season of this show is still hanging out on my DVR, but I needed to give it a shout out. I’ve been a fan of Sasha Alexandra since her NCIS days, and love seeing her on my screen again. As a lesbian medical examiner from Boston? Why not?
Like all the other ME shows (Quincy, Body of Proof), there’s a bit of suspension of disbelief that this exists, but it’s a leap I’ll take. The show is cheeky and fun while still being procedural drama-y. That’s a technical term right there.

The Newsroom
By far the most intellectual of my summer viewing habits, The Newsroom in continuing it’s increasing levels of awesome. This is the show I’m probably most loyal to. I watch new episodes every week the night they air.
At first I was wary of the framing device that Sorkin is using for this season, but after a few episodes I’m really okay with the way this is going. There’s a much stronger season arc this year and I’m absolutely in love. I’m also a little terrified that my free trial of HBO is going to cut out before the end of the season, but we’ll deal with that when we get there.

MasterChef
One of my best friends from high school thinks that my love of this show is strange. I am a self-proclaimed drama girl, why am I so gung-ho about a reality show? Well, there are a few reasons. I love food and I love cooking. I love watching people cook and my dad likes all these things too. My dad and I watch this one together, but I’d probably watch it even without him.
Following cast members on Twitter makes the show that much more exciting. It’s strange to see them all friends on the internet and in real life, when it’s so clear that at the time of filming they hated each other’s guts. A little disarming actually. And I do wish that they would be more understanding of each other on film, because not everyone knows they’re all good now.
The challenges they put on to these contestants through are hard. Going from near-zero to running a five-star restaurant is crazy, but they all handle it so well. It’s a crazy show (and the only one I’ve ever for a minute considered auditioning for), and I love it to bits. Still going on too, so if you’re interested I would be happy to recap who’s who for you so you can watch the last few weeks. Let me know!

Hell’s Kitchen
I’ll level with you, really, I’ll watch anything where we get to see Gordon Ramsey on camera (not even kidding). Something about his brash style and abruptness is mesmerizing to me. It doesn’t hurt that I love cooking. Love it. Add competition and varying degrees of incompetence in there and I’m with you 100%.
This season was a staggering production. As always there were divas and a-holes and a few that I rooted for. While I was kind of rooting for Mary to win it, I would have been fine with any of the top four taking it. Also, since I’m in LA now I keep watching the show and thinking, “Hey, I should go there.” Except for, you know, money.

Camp
I feel like every summer there’s a new scripted show that takes place at a camp. I’ve seen tons of variations from fat camp to drama camp, and they usually don’t manage to stick around for very long. My personal theory why this one’s doing well? They’re focusing on the counselors and staff of the camp instead of the campers.
While this show is NOTHING like the camp that I went to growing up (I went to a christian girls camp), it still manages to bring back memories. I love this show. It’s campy and a little bit awful, but in the best way possibleThere are so many characters, anyone is bound to find someone they can connect with. And with sdo many love triangles it might get hard to keep up with later. I don’t know if they’ve been renewed to come back next summer, but I for one would absolutely tune in again.

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What have you been watching this summer?

What I Wish I Had Time For

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Dear Emmy’s.
I’m so excited about your nominations.  I only got to look at them for a few minutes, but I’m excited to find out who wins.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a few snubs, but overall I think it’s going to be a good awards night.
See you in September,
Rachel

Dear Comic Con,
I went to you.  Just for Friday.  And you were both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.  There was so much happening on the floor that I started to block it all out.  But I loved the panels I got to go to and I and still loving the footage of all the things in Hall H and Ballroom 20.  I can’t wait to go back.
Much Love,
Rachel

Dear Second Post on Dollhouse,
Will you please write yourself?  Just take the notes I took when I finished the series and write yo… hey, come back.
Dangit,
Rachel

Dear Newsroom,
I love you.  In my crazy week of insanity I still make time for you.  And you are gearing up for a fantastic second season.  I can’t wait to see what you have in store for Maggie and Jim, and Mac and Will, and Slone and Don.  Yes, I’m a shipper, so sue me.  No, Will, don’t actually sue me.  Please.
Love, love, love,
Rachel

Oh Cable Television, How do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways!

So, it seems to be that this month is the month of TV schedules here on the blog, and while that wasn’t necessarily the original plan, I think I like it slightly better.  It is impractical to talk about cable shows by the day they are on the air, so instead I will be talking about these under the slightly broader heading of networks.  In Reverse alphabetical order:

USA has consistently served up shows that I don’t think are going to work and then manage to prove me wrong to the tune of five or six seasons.  It’s one of those cases where I love being wrong.  Seriously though, a football psychiatrist (Necessary Roughness)?  A doctor who only makes house calls (Royal Pains)?  Do those exist?  Couples therapy for cops (Common Law)?  And of course, a fake psychic detective (Psych).

Okay, I’ll admit that the only one of these shows that I consistently watch is Psych, but still, USA has so many cool concepts, and so many great characters.  Bonus, all the people who work on these shows seem to be the chillest people ever.  Proof?  They Psych cast at Comic Con this year.  Okay, even I’m seeing that this is a little pineapple heavy, time to move on.  I’ll watch: Psych.

TNT is the network that I would most like to work for someday.  Well, I’d like to work for anyone who would hire me, but I feel like I would really get along with the people at TNT (in my head everyone who works there is somewhat serious with a dark sense of humor; they wear a lot of black).  Their shows include The Closer and it’s step-child Major Crimes, as well as Leverage, Rizzoli & Isles, a reboot of Dallas, and a show called Perception.

Of most note to me here is Leverage.  You guys. I have seen a grand total of three episodes of this show and I’m already in love.  Gina Bellman!  Christian Kane!  Crime!  I’m overwhelmed by how much I love this show, and I know it’s only going to get better when I, you know, watch more of it.

I’ve also seen bits of Major Crimes, and so many ads for Perception I may as well have seen the whole show.  Both seem good, if not quite my usual style.  I love that Sasha Alexandra is in Rizzoli and Isles.  I missed her when she left NCIS oh way back when.  Overall TNT is pretty awesome.  Because when they aren’t showing their own content they’re playing repeats of The Mentalist, which is also awesome.  I’ll watch: Leverage when it comes back and Major Crimes when I’m at my parents house.

HBO is… heavy.  Everything they do is a huge production, and everything is well done.  The production value on everything they come out with is through the roof and that in and of itself is noteworthy (so here I am taking note).  Comedy and Drama, HBO is the real deal.  Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, and Veep are only the beginnings of comedy; and Boardwalk Empire, Entourage, Game of Thrones, and The Newsroom are all fabulous.

As previously discussed, I have mixed feelings on Girls.  It’s a working relationship.  Game of Thrones is one of the most talked about shows in the TV department and I can’t even start with my frustration over having been away while The Newsroom was airing this summer.  I still haven’t seen all of it.  Terrible television student, I know.  I’ll watch: The Newsroom.  And probably Girls.

The Discovery Channel is where I get my “reality” TV.  While I love scripted TV the most, there is a special place in my heart for shows that are unscripted and are actually able to teach me something in the process.  Or at least be wonderfully interesting and full of fun facts to spout out to strangers at a later point in time.

My favorites are most definitely Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs.  Teaching me randoms stuff and being wildly entertaining.  I also think I saw Grant once on the street in San Francisco.  NBD.  I’ll watch Deadliest Catch in a pinch every once in a while too, but for the most part, I’ll watch: Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs (on repeat, forever).

BBCAmerica.  I love the BBC.  I love that they exist and use government funding to make cool shows.  I love that it’s British.  I just love it.  I don’t know that I can actually explain why.  I just do.  I love Doctor Who and Torchwood and The Hour and Sherlock and anything staring Gordon Ramsey.  Really.

At the moment Dramaville includes Luther and Copper, both of which have landed themselves on my too watch list.  I was underwhelmed with Copper upon first viewing, but I feel like I need to give it a second shot.  In the meantime, I’ll watch Doctor Who and Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.

AMC is here so that it doesn’t feel neglected.  Though, with all the talk of their shows (especially Mad Men), I doubt that will happen.  I don’t actually watch any AMC shows for reasons that may or may not be legitimate, but I won’t know how much so until I get around to watching The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad or Mad Men.  Until then, I can’t make much of a judgement call other than to say that they all come fabulously recommended from people who’s taste in television I trust explicitly.

And that’s it.  I think, all cards on the table, I have to say that I don’t actually have cable.  I get TNT for now, though I’m not sure I’m supposed to (not complaining).  I go to my friend’s place and we rent out the media center to watch Doctor Who on BBCA every Saturday.  I get snippets of these shows from classes, loaned DVD’s, friends houses, Netflix, and the shows that are on Hulu or a network’s web player.  What can I tell you, I’m in college.  I can’t afford cable right now as sad as that is to me.  One day.

Cable provides an awesome place for creators to play.  There are less limits and bigger budgets which allows things to happen on a larger scale with more raunchiness or violence.  Neither of those things are elements that I’m always in favor of, but I do think that there is a place for it and in this world, that place is cable TV.