(good) Summer TV

Hi, my name is Jessica and I like television.

Okay, I read and stuff too. Go outside and all of that. I’m not a total hermit that sits inside and watches TV all day.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel a little sad in that break between May and September when there’s no good TV on. Yeah, I know it’s nice out, yada yada. But what happens at night? When it’s dark? There’s nothing on. I don’t like baseball. And summer TV? It’s crap. Wipe Out? Big Brother? I’m sure I’m missing some other horrendous shows. You know what’s missing? Characters. I’m a sucker for character-driven stories. So in the summer, I watch old shows, shows I’ve always meant to watch, but never got around to doing it. Maybe you feel the same way too. Here’s some suggestions I have for this summer:

Arrested Development: One of the funniest and smart comedies to come about in years. It’s a story of a family-run business, and how badly they can screw it up. Get some friends to watch it with you, so when you make random references to it, they know why exactly your chicken impression makes it seem like you’ve never seen a chicken before. Hulu posts one season at a time, they currently have season 3 up with season 1 scheduled to go up on July 1. Netflix Instant Streaming has all three seasons available.

Battlestar Galatica: I’ve said negative things about the finale. But really, the show is brilliance. Especially the first two seasons. You owe yourself that much. And by that part, you’ll be hooked in anyway and have to watch it all anyway. In this reimagined series, humans created these robots. The robots realized that they were being used and turned against humanity. They evolved and wiped out the 12 Colonies. All that is left of humanity is a rag-tag fleet of spaceships, led by the military vessel, the Battlestar Galatica. It’s a brilliant show about humanity. I was sucked in by 10 minutes of the miniseries pilot shown in a class. Make sure you start with the miniseries before jumping into season 1. There are two movies, Razor and The Plan. I recommend watching Razor, which adds on to events in the second season. The Plan, which revolves around the Cylons is hit or miss. And if you enjoyed BSG and want to learn about HOW the Cylons came to be, SyFy is airing Caprica, which is a prequel. Caprica is currently in mid-season hiatus. All of BSG is out and avaliable on DVD.

Chuck: This show has it all. Comedy, drama, romance, action. The cast is perfect. The storylines are perfect. The story is about this underachieving guy who works at the Buy-More (read: Best Buy) and works for the Nerd Herd (read: Geek Squad) and lives with his sister. One day, he opens up an e-mail from his college roommate and winds up having all of these government secrets in his head. He then becomes a CIA asset. The show is about how he juggles his two lives. Chuck just finished it’s 3rd season, and will be back for more in the fall. The first 2 seasons are presently out, the third season will be out on DVD later this summer.

Firefly: I can’t believe that I have two scifi shows on here. Heck, Firefly is a scifi western by the guy that brought us Buffy and Angel. This show also sucked me in from the first moment. I’ll let Captain Mal Renoylds tell you about the show

Here’s how it is: Earth got used up, so we terraformed a whole new galaxy of Earths, some rich and flush with the new technologies, some, not so much. Central Planets, them as formed The Alliance, waged war to bring everyone under their rule. A few idiots tried to fight it, among them, myself. I’m Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity. Got a good crew: fighters, pilot, mechanic. We even picked up a preacher and a bona fide companion. There’s a doctor, too. Took his genius sister outta some Alliance camp, so they’re keeping a low profile. You got a job, we can do it, don’t much care what it is.

It never got a real shot on network television due to Fox airing the series out of order, leading to it only having 13 episodes. But if you want more (and you will) they released a feature-length film a few years ago called Serenity which I HIGHLY recommend. The entire series is on DVD and Netflix Instant Streaming, as well as select episodes on Hulu and TheWB.com

Friday Night Lights: I talked extensively about  why you should watch this show here.

Jack and Bobby: An incredibly smart series about a set of brothers, one of whom is destined to become president. The format is different and interesting. The episodes include snippets of a documentary about President McCallaster, shot post-presidency. The show is almost a flashback. The entire series is available on TheWB.com

Life: Another smart show with great characters (and an adorable leading man in Damian Lewis). Lewis plays a cop who was set-up for the murder of his best friend’s family. As part of the settlement, he become a detective. It includes the ‘murder of the week’ story line, but also has an over-arcing storyline through both seasons. Why was he set up and by whom? Lewis’s cop is adorably quirky and the show is a victim of bad time slots, the writers strike and Jay Leno. Both seasons are available on Hulu until September.

LOST: One of the greatest television shows in my lifetime. Not even joking a little. I’m planning a rewatch after August 24 when the entire series is available on DVD. If you want to get started, the first 5 seasons are on Instant Streaming (plus DVD). The characters and music make this entire run worth it. If you don’t want to get involved with the mythology, it’s okay. Just focus on the first two. I’ve talked more about LOST here and here.

Mad Men: Technically, Mad Men IS a summer show. But it’s on cable, so it doesn’t matter. If you’ve watched the Golden Globes or Emmys in the past few years, you’ve heard of this show. It’s an amazing story set in the 60’s on Madison Avenue. It’s a wonderful snapshot of the history of the time, touching on the Cuban Missile Crisis, the dawn of television, Kennedy and  the racial unrest among other topics. It’s a well-written, well-acted story. Jon Hamm is both pretty on the eyes, and tremendously talented. Season 3 is a testament  to this. Season 4 premieres on AMC on Sunday, July 25 at 10.

Now, anyone have any suggestions for me? Since I’ve watched all of the above? Other wise, it’s going to be a long hiatus…

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