Thursday, August 22, 2013

Catching up with summer TV

What, you forgot about me already? Fair. Nothing has graced this fine blog since mid-July. I'm calling the hiatus a summer vacation, though that's a bit of a euphemism. The Herald is a busy beast these days, and I haven't found much extra time for this endeavor.

But I've sorta been keeping up with summer TV.
A summary:

Orange is the New Black: Unlike "Arrested Development," which took me more than a month to get through, I happily breezed through this Netflix original in a matter of days. The true delight of this dramedy set in a women's prison is the fully realized group of side characters who populate it. Crazy Eyes, Red, Nicky, Poussey, Taystee, Yoga Jones -- even, I'll admit, Methmouth for a moment -- come alive with only the briefest of story. They make the central duo of Piper and Alex almost secondary. Season 2 is shooting now.

The Killing: The AMC drama really turned things around this year, mostly because it dropped the plot-driven model of the first two seasons and allowed the characters to take the story where it needed to go. The kids grew on me -- especially Bex Taylor-Klaus as Bullet -- and Peter Sarsgaard was devastating.

The finale came close to totally blowing it. (Spoilers ahead.) Making Skinner the killer was an obvious choice, even if it wasn't well-telegraphed, and the way the episode unfolded was pretty trite. In short, it felt out of place in the season. But the final moments, when Linden executes Skinner, come from a believable place and open up an array of opportunities for a potential fourth season.

The Bridge: This FX cross-border murder mystery is the first show in a long time that I'm eager enough to watch on the night it airs (as a worker on the late shift, pretty much all of my viewing is time-shifted). I love that it's about more than just a serial killer -- among other things, it's about the divide between the U.S. and Mexico in how we see, react and deal with crime. I love that Sonya's Asperger's means she can be blunt, and I love that Marco -- morally gray Marco -- just sort of rolls with it.

It's not without its flaws, though. The mystery unfurls at a near-perfect pace, but it sometimes feels like too many threads are being brought in, even if somewhere down the line they will end up connected. Past episodes are online and On Demand. We're about halfway through. Airs Wednesdays.

The Newsroom: Sigh. I keep watching, because, Sorkin. But it's also driving me crazy, because, Sorkin. The bottom line is that I'm finding it hard to care about anyone this season, especially Will, whose "woe is me" storyline is basically just a reflection of Sorkin himself. (Read this interview: http://bit.ly/1d3R8SZ.) I am, however, curious about how Genoa will unravel (although moderately savvy viewers who like to watch basketball may already have an idea how), so there's that.

Broadchurch: A BBC America murder mystery that startles me everytime something high-tech comes along, because everything in the British countryside is not modern, right? It unravels at a slow and steady pace and knows how to end an episode. Another Wednesday-nighter. Past episodes On Demand.

Breaking Bad: Only two episodes into the final run, but oh my. I fully appreciate that the Walt-Hank showdown is happening right away, and that the show is dealing with the family fall-out first and foremost. What will Walt use the ricin for? What's Jesse gonna say, if anything, to Hank? What the hell is the point of Lydia? I'm on tenterhooks here.

Etc.: I tried watching CBS's "Under the Dome," but found the first episode too ridiculous to carry on with (it's been renewed, naturally) ... I finally watched some "Duck Dynasty," and now I get it. It's a weird reality show/sitcom hybrid, but so, so funny. That Si is a character ... Speaking of reality shows, the real housewives are stressful. New Jersey is really showing heart this year, though ... HBO knocked it out of the park with comedies "Veep" and "Family Tree" ... I started the summer with a little "Moonlighting." Got to the first few episodes of the second season, but haven't gone back. Someday, though. I'll report on my findings.

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