Friday, 27 December 2013

2013 Review continued - Favourite TV shows

OK, I readily admit it. I watch too much TV. It's always been an enjoyment of mine. From when I had to decide if I wanted to stay in Boy Cubs or quit so I could watch The Man from U.N.C.L.E, back in the '60s, I've always enjoyed the Tube. There was a time, from 1968 - 71, when my father was transferred to Germany that I had to suffer with watching just the German TV channel. It was definitely a different experience, but interesting nonetheless. It's one thing that I enjoy, spending my evenings at home with the missus and puppies, relaxing in our family room, comfortably ensconced on the sofa, book at my elbow, our schedule in front of us as we settle down to a pleasant, relaxing evening watching some of our favourite shows. Of late we find ourselves watching more shows on line or on the less than main networks, like HBO, AMC, A&E, Lifetime, there are some excellent shows there. My list from last year is at the link attached. I still enjoy many of the same shows, but quite a few excellent new shows have made their way to our viewing pleasure. Jo and I enjoy many of the same shows, but we also have our own different favourites; she likes The Good Wife and Scandal, I like The Walking Dead, for example. Anyway, here is a non-all-inclusive look at what I've enjoyed for the most part this past year.


Some tried and true favourites remain on our must - see TV list, but there have been a couple of new ones as well that have provided much enjoyment and laughter..

1. The Big Bang Theory - It's been one of our favourites since its inception. I think last year was a bit of an off-year, until the episode when the ladies decided to see what the thrill of comics was while the boys went to Comicon. It's such an excellent comedy and the addition of Melissa Rauch, as Bernadette Wolowitz and Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler has refreshed what is already an excellent show.

2. New Girl - The first time we saw New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel as Jess, who moves in with three men, we thought that it was just another attempt to imitate Friends. We were already watching and enjoying another gang comedy, Happy Endings and we didn't really think this one would work. But to our surprise, it grabbed us very quickly and had us laughing out loud. It's a silly show, but at the same time, quite endearing. Jess' supporting cast, Jake Johnson as her boyfriend, Nick, Max Greenfield as Schmidt, Lamorne Morris as Winston make up her eccentric roommates and the rapport between the group makes for an excellent comedy. Throw in the lovely Hannah Simone as Jess' best friend and Schmidt's on-again, off-again girlfriend, Cece, and you've got one of our favourite comedies. This season has continued the excellent work, especially throwing in Damon Wayans Jr (ex of Happy Endings) as Coach and it's added to the humour and the silliness.

3. Modern Family - This has been one of our favourite shows since the first moment we saw it. It's a lovely, funny, at times, touching show about family, all kinds of family; from Jay (Ed O'Neill) the patriarch, who has married a younger woman, Sophie Vergara, with her son, Manny, to his daughter, Claire (Julie Bowen) in the most 'typical' family situation, married with three children and his gay son, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), married to his partner, Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and their adopted Vietnamese daughter, Lily. This odd grouping finds themselves in funny situations every week, but they teach us that love and family are the strongest bonds. Excellent show.

And then a couple of new shows..

4. The Millers - We're never sure about getting involved with new shows as they have such short life spans. But this comes on right after The Big Bang Theory on Thursday, so we took a chance on it as a possible fill-in. Fortunately, we were immediately taken with it. It's a silly show, but the cast makes it hilarious. There isn't an episode when we aren't laughing out loud, enjoying the dialogue, the characters and the action. It stars Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale as newly divorced parents of Will Arnett (the main character) and Jayma Mays as their long-suffering children who are now forced to have their parents living with them, dad with Jayma and mom with Will. So far it's been a hit with us and we're sitting with fingers crossed, hoping that it keeps up its quality and stays on the air!!

5. Mrs. Brown's Boys - Deciding to watch this show was definitely a fluke. It was on last year when we went over to England for the Olympics, but our brief exposure to it didn't grab our attention. BBC Canada started showing the first season and Jo watched one and thought it was cute. I sat with her to watch another and was immediately taken with it. It's a unique show, set before a live audience, and many of the best lines are due to mistakes or reactions of the cast in front of the audience. It stars Brendan O'Carroll (Yup, he's a man), the writer and creator of the show as Agnes Brown, an Irish matriarch in Dublin, who is raising her adult family, five children, 1 girl (Brendan's real life wife) and 4 boys. It's often slapstick, often loud, but it makes us laugh and often get the sniffles as each show has a lesson of some sort. It's been the pleasant surprise of our viewing season.

Honourable Mentions include The Mindy Project and old favourite How I Met Your Mother (which is in its last season, each episode basically one hour closer to the wedding of Barney and Robin. It also has finally introduced 'your Mother'.)

Ripper Street

Mystery is one of Jo and my favourite genres; it kind of goes hand - in - glove with my love of the written mystery. There are so many shows that I could pick as my Top Five. To name a few, there are the old familiar stand-bys, NCIS, CSI, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds and some newer shows, such as King & Maxwell, White Collar, Murder in Paradise, Murdoch Mysteries, Broadchurch, Vera, Longmire and Elementary. They are all unique in their own right and all excellent and pass an hour allowing us to try and figure out who has committed the crime. But here are five that I will somewhat arbitrarily choose as my favourites -

Ripper Street - oddly enough, we get this on Space in Canada. It's a period-piece mystery set in the Whitechapel district of East London in 1889. It stars Matthew MacFadyen of DI Reid in the starring role, capably assisted by Jerome Flynn, DS Drake and Adam Rothenberg as American Capt Homer Jackson. It's a gritty show, dealing with cases like the Ripper murders, abortion, robbery, etc. It has a wonderful cast and the setting is beautifully portrayed and the cases interesting and sometimes brutal.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - Another period piece, set in Australia, after World War I and based on the books by Kerry Greenwood, it follows Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) as a Private Detective, trying to help, often hindering, the Melbourne police, led by Capt Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). This is another show with a great cast. It's more in the line of Hercule Poirot (not so intellectual) and the Inspector Alleyn mysteries. Wonderful costumes (Essie wears such beautiful clothes... says the man.. (*sigh), a wonderful, sexy leading lady and fun all around.

Cracked - From the Canadian contingent comes Cracked, starring David Sutcliffe, who you might remember as Christopher of Gilmore Girls' fame, as a Toronto Police Detective assigned to the Psych crimes unit (and with his own psychological issues as well). The premise is that a detective is assigned a partner who is a psychologist or psychological nurse to deal with crimes involving people with obvious mental issues. It's an interesting premise that works very well. David Sutcliffe is surprisingly good (saying that because I didn't like him, well, his character, in Gilmore Girls) and the supporting cast is excellent. Brooke Nevin of Breakout Kings joined the cast this year and had fit right in. The crimes can be gritty, but they are treated with care and it's nice to see Toronto so unashamedly featured. Excellent series from CBC.

Perception - Another psychological mystery show, but from the perspective of Dr Daniel Pierce (played brilliantly by Eric McCormack) an neuroscience professor who is contracted to assist the FBI (set in Chicago) with strange cases. His liaison is portrayed superbly by Rachel Leigh Cook, as Special Agent Kate Moretti. What makes the stories so interesting is that Daniel has mental issues of his own, coping with a past of paranoid schizophrenia. In each case he must cope with 'visions', who try to assist him in solving the cases. Also along for the ride is his constant companion, Kelly Rowan as Natalie, his imaginary best friend and adviser. The cases are interesting, the cast excellent and it's been a must-see show for us.

Person of Interest - What can I say about this show? It's become one of our favourites; it's gritty, wonderful, full of action and sort of fantastical. The premise is that a mysterious billionaire, played by Michael Emerson, hires an ex-CIA agent, Jim Caviezel, to help people whose numbers come up via a computer program that Emerson has developed, originally to combat possible terrorists in the U.S. Whether the person, whose number comes up is the victim or criminal is determined throughout each episode. As the series has progressed, we've learnt more of each of the main character's pasts and that of the other supporting cast. The supporting cast, from Taraji P. Henson as Detective Carter, through Lionel Chapman as ex-bad cop Detective Fusco to new character, Sara Shahi, another ex-CIA operative, aka stone-cold killer, is fantastic as well making this a true gang show. It draws you in, you love the characters, feel their pain and cheer them on. This past year has had so many surprises that we can't wait for it to start up again in January. Fantastic show.

I've got a couple of other categories to go, but will hold off until tomorrow, supper and evening television calls.. :0)

More to follow, enjoy your weekends.


  1. I almost agree with your list.. I would add Suits and The Good Wife to my list... probably at numbers 1 and 2.
    I have a guilty pleasure too in Scandal.. which is preposterous tosh, but still entertaining.

  2. They are two of your favourites. I like suits, but mainly for Donna, have unfortunately lost interest in The Good Wife. We all have our guilty pleasures, I know how much you enjoy Scandal... ;0)


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