TV

Summer Viewing: Part Two

In the previous part, I discussed a selection of the shows I watched over the dreaded summer hiatus and in this second part, I’ll finish off that list. I will be making an effort to keep this post as short (and hopefully sweet) as possible as the Modern Family Awards (sorry, Emmy Awards) happened earlier this week and I’m keen on sharing my thoughts on them as soon as possible.

 

Sons of Anarchy

I used the hiatus, and Netflix, to get into this show after a recommendation from somebody on Twitter. As with Damages and Breaking Bad, I have no idea where I’ve been all these years because Sons of Anarchy is just brilliant.

Pinpointing a single factor as to why SoA is as good as it is isn’t something I can easily do and I’m not about to try. It has a cast that is varied and features the phenomenal Katey Segal, a gritty sense of realism that greatly contributes to its atmosphere, stories that intrigue and build-up to satisfying conclusions and an overall sense of overwhelming quality. The fact it’s so criminally underrated and has yet to win anything at the Emmys, or even get nominated, is not indicative of its quality, that’s for sure.

The second season was easily my favourite, purely because of how much Katey Segal had to do and how well she did it. The woman’s a terrific actress capable of things most actresses could only dream of achieving and season two put the character through the ringer with the rape storyline. Season four would be the next on the list due to how game-changing it was and how much it made me loathe Clay (I’ve never hated a character as hard as I did Clay for a long time). I would say that season three wasn’t as good as the ones that book-end it but while it may not have matched their quality, it’s still vastly superior to other shows out there.

Perhaps one day we’ll see an Emmys nomination list and see Sons of Anarchy featured as prominently as it should be. One day…

 

Community

I’m the first person to admit that comedy is not always my ‘thing’. I much prefer drama to a short burst of laughter, sometimes completely unfunny. However, I do occasionally dip in and find myself surprised at what I find. Recently, I was thrown forward into the path of Community, which is quite simply one of the funniest, well-written, innovative and creative comedies that I’ve come across. Coming from somebody who isn’t a huge follower of the genre, that is considerable praise indeed.

A good comedy usually lives or dies depending on how comedic it actually is and how well the cast work. While shows like New Girl have one element nailed down but not the other, Community has both fastened down with indestructible screws. Its stories are often pure genius, its cast work flawlessly together and it regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty to produce truly remarkable episodes of television that will live on far longer than many other comedies.

I’m particularly fond of the cast, especially Danny Pudi’s perfect performance and Joel McHale’s unrivalled leadership, but I often think that Gillian Jacobs is underrated in how great she actually is. Most of the attention seems to be on the two aforementioned guys a lot of the time but she really is one of the stars of the show in my eyes.

Season three is easily my favourite of the show to date. Why, you may ask? Regional Holiday Music, Remedial Chaos Theory (flawless), Pillows and Blankets, Basic Lupine Urology, Digital Estate Planning and The First Chang Dynasty. Remedial Chaos Theory and Digital Estate Planning are two honestly incomparable episodes that are just a small example of why this show tramples all over the majority of the competition. It shouldn’t be Modern Family cleaning up at the Emmys; it should be Community.

 

Southland

Thanks to a friend with the DVD boxset of this show, I watched through all four seasons and wondered why it’s taken me this long to do so. It’s gripping, intense, finely balances the need to show the police procedural element and the happenings in the lives of the characters and as a result, succeeds in not being just another procedural to add to the enormous list of the shows just like that that currently populate the television landscape.

Southland is definitely one of those shows that improves the further you get into it. Season one was a little average and it was a struggle to appreciate the continuous insights into the character’s lives when you still had yet to learn their names, but season two was where things kicked off. Three and four benefited massively from having higher episode counts to make use of, and story arcs were brought in to connect the episodes in a way which it had somewhat struggled to do before. Season four was utterly captivating and I now cannot wait to see what the fifth season brings to the table next year.

Some people may be put off from watching the show because of believing that Southland is just another police procedural with little else going for it. I too believed this before actually watching the show. Yes, it is procedural at times but the focus is definitely on the characters and how they integrate within that environment and the struggles that brings. It’s because of this that the show manages to distance itself from a ‘typical cop show’ and this should easily be on your viewing calendar if it isn’t already.

 

So, anybody have any thoughts they’d wish to add regarding any of these shows mentioned? Perhaps you used the hiatus to make starts on things you’ve neglected in the past? Hit the comment box below and let me know what you have to say.

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