When Good Shows Don’t Quit (And Why They Shouldn’t Have To)

tvGood TV never dies. Its characters lie etched in our hearts after years and years of witnessing their trials and triumphs. When you spend countless nights with the same people, they start to feel all too real. How many of us still remember how it felt when Mr. Feeny said his final goodbye, when Heisenberg fell, when McDreamy took his last breath, when Buffy kicked evil’s butt in a showdown for the ages?

My generation loves nostalgia. Kids of the ‘90s were raised on VHS tapes and playing outside until the sun went down, but we were thrust into the technological age at a dizzying pace. Now everything is digital and 3-D or 4-D and watching something isn’t enough—now it becomes a “two screen experience” or a “conversation” held entirely behind a keyboard. So it’s natural for us to yearn for the days when our most technologically advanced possession was a Game Boy or a Tamagotchi.

Television is capitalizing on that soft spot and taking viewers on a stroll down Memory Lane. I’m not complaining; I get to relive my childhood through the reimagining of some of my favorite shows. It’s a recipe for cheese galore, but if you know me, you know I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like.

“Revival.” “Reboot.” Critics toss these around like dirty words, but why the hate? It can’t be that uncommon for audiences to wish they could spend just a little more time with their favorite TV families, to wonder what ever happened after the screen faded to black. Whether it means finding new life on streaming services, movies becoming shows, shows becoming movies, or just a brief glimpse back into their small screen worlds, revivals are all the rage. And I am here for it.

This PSA, I break down three of my favorite nostalgia-driven reboots—why they work, why they don’t, why I love them—and in a future PSA, three other shows that I hope to see return someday. Continue reading

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Ranking Netflix Original Shows: Part 2

Missed Part 1? Read it here.

5. House of Cards

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I needed something new to binge-watch a couple months ago, so one night I pilot-tested three shows I’d always heard good things about: Friday Night Lights, Sons of Anarchy, and House of Cards. I think you know which one I landed on. I pursued Frank Underwood’s ruthless attempt to claim his spot in the White House in spite of my lackadaisical approach to politics mostly due to the journalism angle. I loved watching Kate Mara’s character carefully cultivate her sources, itching to uncover scandals, and using questionable means to achieve answers. {Spoiler Alert!} The journalism angle didn’t last long unfortunately after Zoe met the business end of a subway train and I felt my interest waning. The show delivers some powerhouse performances though; Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are perfectly bone-chilling. I’ll probably keep up with it when season 5 rolls around. Continue reading

Ranking Netflix Original Shows: Part 1

I was hesitant to give a Netflix original a try back in 2013, but when the buzz around “Orange is the New Black” became too loud to ignore, I was swayed to appreciate the brilliant concept streaming really is: Consumers like it because of the lack of annoying network regulations and censorship, plus no commercials, and the ability to devour episode after episode without waiting a week in between (thanks to Netflix for that; other platforms like Hulu lack that particular perk). Showrunners probably appreciate the flexibility and innovation. And Netflix, well they get to see their numbers start shooting up because no one wants to be left out when the hype starts circulating about an awesome new show, so they hurry to sign up. Without delving into too much research, I believe Netflix was the first to offer streaming-only television. Now Hulu and others like Amazon Prime and HBO Go have jumped on the money-making bandwagon. I haven’t strayed too far from Netflix because it’s still top banana in my eyes, but I may have to make an exception soon to check out Aaron Paul in “The Path” (Hulu).

Anyway, the list of Netflix originals started small and has significantly expanded over the past couple of years and within the past few months, I’ve finally started to branch out and try a few more. Some of the newer ones with short episodes and truncated seasons take barely a day to watch. Others are more of a long-term commitment. And many are pleasant surprises. Below is a sampling of the ones I’ve tried so far and where they rank in my personal opinion. 

1. Orange Is The New Black

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The OG of Netflix originals. I was hooked instantly on the story of Piper Chapman, a wealthy good girl whose brief stint as a drug mule catches up to her just before the statute of limitations reaches its cut-off. She winds up having to leave her fiancé and incredulous family grappling with many questions and a slight inability to cope with these revelations as she enters a women’s prison in upstate New York for 15 months. What ensues is a very real, scary, uplifting, unflinching, funny, and sometimes heart-breaking look at life as an inmate. I read the biographical tale on which the show is based and was impressed with how the smallest paragraph in writing became a running theme for an entire episode on screen. I love learning the backstories of these incredibly complex characters. The show does hit some speed bumps, particularly as the seasons go on, but it still has that X factor that keeps you coming back for more. It’s also morphed into an all-out event that keeps viewers itching with anticipation. When season 3 was released a day early last year, the social handles for the show knowingly acknowledged that people would be devouring it all on the spot, tweeting out questions like, “Who’s still with us?” at 4 a.m. with winking emojis. It’s fun to feel like you’re part of a collective watching party and few shows elicit that vibe the way OITNB does. Continue reading

Summer Series Snapshot: Orange is the New Black S3

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The same weekend that had me glued to my seat during Jurassic World is also when I binged (i.e. sat in my basement like a hermit for endless hours every day) the third season of Netflix’s breakout prison dramedy. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have claimed to give OITNB a try and “just couldn’t get into it.” I don’t understand those people. I will admit that the series probably wouldn’t survive if it was formatted as a typical weekly primetime show, because it definitely doesn’t move fast enough for that. If it’s your least favorite character’s turn to get their backstory exposition, you’d be likely to tune out. But that’s why Netflix is such an awesome platform for TV in this digital era. 12 episodes are so easily consumed over the span of a week or less and viewers are SO hungry for more when those episodes pass and they can’t view any more new ones until an entire year later. It can be torture. At least when “The Walking Dead” ends in February, I know I only have to wait another … 8 months (wow, that sounds long!) instead of 12.

This season had its high and low points. They’ve started to paint Piper as a sort of insufferable monster, but they also focused on some characters who until this point had just been background noise in the grand scheme of life at Litchfield. The internet is freaking out over the discovery of Ruby Rose, the androgynous and beautiful Aussie whose character of Stella became a romantic interest for Piper. And what stands out for me had nothing at all to do with character development, but the final scene in which (SPOILER ALERT), they all seemed to experience such absolute delight in their fleeting moments of freedom while swimming in that lake. How something so simple can become so joyous really illustrated how much we take our freedom for granted.

2014 Fall TV Premieres

I’m like a kid on Christmas morning when fall sweeps rolls around. I giddily set my TiVo to record all my favorite shows and mark dates on my calendar for season premieres. My schedule is jam-packed with medical drama, singing students, Russian spies, and zombies (sorry, walkers). I come home from work, eat dinner, shower, and settle in with my remote for a good two to three hours. I’m a total couch potato—no shame! Release dates for the 2014 season have recently been announced and I’m already counting down the days to when I get to see my favorite characters on the small screen once again. My schedule looks a little something like this:

SPOILER ALERTS!

SUNDAYS

Sunday

The Walking Dead—Season 5 premieres 10/12 @ 9 p.m.

I was late to the Apocalypse, but once I got into this AMC mega-hit (touted the most-watched cable drama in history), I became hungrily obsessed. With the exception of season two, every new adventure in the lives of our ragtag survivors has been explosive. Season 4 closed on one hell of a cliffhanger and many comic readers are speculating that the new turf in Terminus is cannibal land. Showrunners have promised that we won’t have to wait long to see how Rick I’ll-Eat-Your-Throat-Out Grimes and Co. escape from that train car. The trailer for the season was released at Comic-Con and provides a heart-pounding look at what we have to look forward to; a must-see for Dead fans. Check it out: Continue reading

2014 Emmy Award Nominations

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Technically award season never ends, what with obscure music awards scattered throughout the summer months and the ever-dreadful VMAs in August, but I always look to the Emmys to kick off another year. They’re not my favorite award show, but they’re more official than even the Golden Globes (think EGOT).

I’m a severe television addict, which should mean I get excited for this particular golden statue, but I’ve admittedly grown very tired of seeing the same names year after year. Shows that aren’t even funny anymore continue to win Best Comedy (I’m lookin’ at you, “Modern Family”) and phenomenal performances are overlooked in favor of more famous faces (Monica Potter was so painfully snubbed last year for her ugly-sob inducing work on NBC’s “Parenthood.”)

So imagine my surprise this year when some new talent was finally recognized on July 10 with the announcement of the 2014 Emmy noms. Continue reading

OITNB: Round 2 starts 6/6

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Netflix dropped a cute little Easter egg at the end of the House of Cards finale: the release date for season 2 of Orange is the New Black! We return to Litchfield on June 6. Good thing it’s a Friday because it’s probably safe to say you won’t budge from your bed/couch/cave until you devour all 13 episodes. No vacation days from work required. View the teaser after the jump. Continue reading