On a regular week in the regular television season, I watch at least two, if not three, dozen shows every week, on a variety of networks, on a variety of days. But during the Summer, that large sum gets reduced to close to absolute zero, and it leaves a gaping hole in its absence that lingers around for several months. But while it’s annoying and irritating and every word following those descriptions, it’s also useful.
During the Summer hiatus last year, I used the three months of television inactivity to catch up on shows I’d missed, or shows I’d neglected for several years (Southland, Community. Damages etc.). To keep with tradition, I shall be doing the same thing again this year, using the wonders of Netflix and the like to fill my time.
I’ve already published a page on this blog stating my plans for what I’ll be watching over this Summer, but I’ll be going into more detail over the course of this post about what I’ll be watching and why. I like to think I’ve created a schedule with a decent combination of re-watches and catch-ups, as well as shows I’ve never watched before, on top of the Summer shows that’ll be premiering in the next few months. But by all means, if you have something you’d like to suggest me to watch, feel free to throw it my way!
Starting off my schedule is a re-watch of a show I watched for the first time at the beginning of 2012, and loved almost every second of: The Sopranos. I began my re-watch of this exciting, complex show a month ago, and I’m at the beginning of the fourth season at this point. To say I’m remembering exactly what it was that made me fall in love with the show back then would be an understatement, but I’m also watching the show with a more observant eye, noticing subtext and themes that I never saw before–and it’s giving my already existing appreciation for the show a whole new definition.
I could write for hours about the many reasons I consider The Sopranos to be one of the best shows of the last decade, but it all ultimately boils down to two central, well-developed elements: the cast, and the storytelling–and how they work in exquisite conjunction with each other. I instantly fell in love with James Gandolfini’s portrayal of the father of two very different families, and the subsequent exploration into his character was what the majority of the show revolved around–and to excellent effect.
I don’t usually decide to re-watch a show so relatively soon after originally watching it, but The Sopranos was just an itch I couldn’t stop scratching. I’m engaging with all of the many memorable characters all over again, getting deeply integrated with the many well-tuned character arcs, and on top of that, I’m excited to have episodes like “Pine Barrens” back in my life. (I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t like the hilarious adventures of Paulie and Christopher stuck in the frozen wilderness with no food, no shelter and no shoe?) But most of all, I’m enjoying being back in the company of these characters, even if most of them are all despicable pieces of shit (blunt, but deserved).
On top of re-watching an old favourite, at some point during the Summer, I will also be (finally) finishing Friends–a show whose boxset I have owned for over three years but have never gotten past the eighth season with. Shocking, I know, but there you go.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure at what point I decided to inexplicably stop watching the show, or why, but it’s something I intended on finishing last Summer but never got around to. I dare say that if the show were on Netflix, I would’ve plowed through the remaining seasons that I have yet to watch because we all know that Netflix > DVDs in regards to convenience. But nevertheless, I’ll have to be clearing the dust off the boxset in the next few months to return to hardcore shipping Monica and Chandler once again. (Seriously, when I say ‘hardcore’, you better believe it. I may have cried at their wedding.)
Over the last few weeks/months, I’ve been making a conscious effort to broaden my comedy horizons, given that while I watch a vast variety of dramas, I always tend to be lacking in the comedy department. A few months ago, I watched the entirety of the excellent Parks and Recreation in a matter of weeks, as well as finally catching up on New Girl and becoming borderline obsessed with Arrested Development for many weeks in May, with the fourth season (released onto Netflix last month) being the first show on my Summer calendar already devoured.
Arrested Development’s fourth season has had somewhat of a lukewarm response from television critics since it was unleashed upon the populace. Many criticised its change in format, and some even went as far as to say “it isn’t as funny anymore”–and I agree that the season had its problems and didn’t compare to the first three. (Without an ensemble format, it could never compare. At least for me.) That being said, it was massive fun to be around these fantastic characters again, and the story, while appearing to be nonexistent early on in the season, unfolds over the course of the fifteen episodes with a sense of connectivity that’s intelligent and rewarding, becoming better the further you progress into it. Yes, the season had issues, but it was still a stellar effort that I sincerely hope we see again (and hopefully when the cast members’ schedules aren’t so heavy).
Finally watching Arrested Development was a significant step in broadening my comedy horizons, especially considering the show is widely regarded as the best sitcom in history, but I have another show on my agenda for this Summer: Veep.
HBO’s comedy has been on my radar for a while now, mostly because I frequently saw people I follow on Twitter watching it and, more specifically, mentioning its quality. There’s also the fact that Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the Emmy for ‘lead actress in a comedy series’ at last September’s ceremony that encouraged me to make a start on the show. I’ve checked out the premise for myself and watched a few video clips on YouTube, and, well, it certainly looks right up my street. Plus, there’s actually not many episodes of the show to watch, so it’ll take up very little of my time in between watching other shows on my itinerary.
Moving back to the dramas on my Summer schedule and we come to Desperate Housewives. I’ve had the boxset since Christmas, and I watched seasons 1-5 fast and furiously, but I’ve managed a meagre seven-ish episodes of the sixth season in the last three months, although I absolutely intend on finishing the series before September rolls back around and drowns it out once again.
There are two reasons why I paused my watch of Desperate Housewives a few months ago: because I was watching Grey’s Anatomy at the same time (which is far superior), and because I was generally unimpressed with the ‘same old, same old’ feeling I was sensing from the few episodes I watched of the sixth season. I loved how the show took its ridiculous and outlandish soapy nature and embraced it, but when you’ve seen it for five seasons straight, it became a little grating.
On the other hand, however, spending quite a bit of time away from the adventures on Wisteria Lane, and not being distracted by the sex and many scandals occurring at Seattle Grace, might mean my interest in the show will be reinvigorated when I return to it. I don’t like leaving shows uncompleted (case in point with Friends), so I’ll be making a determined effort to finally finish what I started many months ago. (Plus all the seasons are on Netflix so the convenience factor has been satisfied.)
The final show on my schedule that I neglected for years but recently started is the sublime Friday Night Lights. As I write this, I’m just starting season three, and to say that I am finding the show an absolutely incredible experience would be putting it lightly, for many, many reasons.
It’s pretty obvious that the one thing the show is good at above nearly everything else is the characters. The characters drive the show, and with a cast like this, it’s no wonder it’s such a mesmerizing, emotionally charged experience. It really didn’t take me long to fall in love with Coach and his family, with adorable little Matt Saracen, with likes-to-talk-in-the-third-person Smash and so forth–and the more I continue watching the show, the more attached I become to them. I will them to succeed, I feel pain when they fail, and while it makes for a viewing experience akin to self-masochism, it’s just perfect.
It really didn’t take me long to fall head over heels for Friday Night Lights, but there was a point, right at the beginning of the show, that I nearly stopped watching. Why? Because the show is filmed in an almost documentary-style format, including the shaky cam effect, and I found it so off-putting and distracting that I was unsure whether I would be able to withstand it for the duration. Fortunately, however, it quickly became a non-issue and now I don’t even realise it’s there anymore, and to think I could’ve let it deter me from watching something as good as this makes me feel nauseous.
So, those are the shows on my agenda for the Summer hiatus this year. I’ve also recently been recommended Rectify that I may or may not check out at some point (there are only six episodes so it wouldn’t take me long), as well as the inevitable Netflix marathons of many, many shows. (I’ve recently been binging on episodes of The X-Files and Supernatural, for example.) But there’s a very strong chance that I’ll add to this itinerary over the next few months, so throw your recommendations for shows I don’t already watch my way!