I wish I could say that I treasure my time and make sure that every moment is lived to it’s fullest, so what little of it that I devote to mindless entertainment like television will only be spent watching the absolute best entertainment available. That’s mostly true. I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV compared to the national average. I am not, however, living life to it’s fullest. Oh, well, that’s my problem and I do just fine rationalizing why I don’t spend every free minute writing, drawing or strolling through parks and museums. The other things that would equate to living life to it’s fullest cost money that I tend to spend on things like utilities and the mortgage and food. But, each week, I find a few hours for television.
I’ve seen a lot of my favorite shows cancelled due to poor Nielson ratings, so I’ve become more conscientious about watching shows in a timely manner if their ratings really matter. This generally means that during the active television seasons I watch network television and during the off seasons I catch up on Mythbusters and rent or buy a lot of movies.
Sundays I record the Simpsons, but don’t always watch it. It’s not serial and in no danger of being cancelled and I can’t watch it when my four-year-old daughter is around. I’ve given up on sheltering her, but she is just disturbingly gleeful at the Itchy and Scratchy segments and I don’t need my wife glaring at me like I’m corrupting her mind. She came that way, really.
I don’t let any of my kids watch Californication, but my wife and I do every Sunday for ten or so weeks a year while it’s new. It’s fun on so many levels, but a little too fun with the gratuitous sexuality for any of my children to be allowed to watch.
Mondays are Castle, Chuck and How I Met Your Mother, though since I’m usually out with the guys until midnight, I only have time to watch Castle on Mondays, or I should say the wee hours of Tuesday.
As a police procedural, “Castle” sucks. Luckily it’s not really a police procedural so much as a character dramedy set over the framework of a police procedural. Where most modern procedurals focus on the case and spackle in some character development here and there, Castle is all about the characters and uses murder mysteries as a backdrop. Nathan Fillion (who some of us know as Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly/Serenity) plays Rick Castle, a modern mystery writer who somehow got partnered with ultra-hot police Detective Beckett played by Stana Kanic (who most of us have never seen anywhere else, but she played a female cop in a patent leather uniform in the awful comic book adaptation flick, “The Spirit”). She is his inspiration for the heroine in his new mystery series of novels. Rick Castle is like a kid in a candy shop at murder scenes and has a tendency to come up with the “if this were a book” dramatic theories, which are usually wrong. He’s like a spoiled rich kid without the…no…not without anything. He’s a big spoiled rich kid. He made himself rich, though, so it’s okay that he spoils himself. An indicator of the show’s success just might be the two real world novels released by “Rick Castle.” Not only can anyone buy these “Nikki Heat” novels at the local bookstore, but enough people did that they were both top ten best-sellers.
“Chuck” is a show about what would happen if a normal geek were suddenly brain-printed with all the covert intel of the world and thrust into the world of international espionage. For some reason, most of the world’s espionage takes place in or around a big-box electronics store in Burbank, California, but, hey, suspension of disbelief, right? The show is funny and a treat for geeks everywhere. And with all the gadgets we all need just to survive day to day, (we’re all becoming geekier by the minute) the show should have global appeal. And it has Adam Baldwin playing an intelligence Colonel who happens to have a profound love for(and skill with) big guns. Adam is not one of the Baldwin brothers, but some of us might know him as big gun loving Jayne Cobb from Firefly/Serenity. The rest of you may have seen him as big gun loving Animal Mother from Full Metal Jacket. Seeing a pattern here? Right–I tend to follow actors who had previously worked with Joss Whedon. Oh and Adam Baldwin gets typecast as the guy with the biggest guns.
“How I Met Your Mother” is a very light comedy about five friends. It’s like what Friends should have been if it wasn’t politically correct. Barney, a corporate high-up, womanizing, ultra-successful, suit-wearing, laser tag fan, is the primary comedic source, but the comedy comes from everyone really. Barney is played by Neil Patrick Harris, who geeks know as Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible and everyone else knows from “Dougie Houser, MD”. Allison Hannigan is also part of the main cast and rose to fame as Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s witchy sidekick, Willow. Why yes, Buffy was one of Joss Whedon’s works. The big-picture premise of the show doesn’t come up as much now as it did in the early seasons. The idea is we’re watching one of the friend’s “Ted’s” search for the future mother of his children in the NYC thirtyish scene. Often the show will feature easter-eggs – casual mentions of websites that are “real”. You can visit them in reality, but they’re entirely made up to augment the entertainment value of the show.
Tuesdays I watch superhero TV: “No Ordinary Family” and “The Cape.” If you’re into superhero TV of higher caliber than “Heroes”, then these are good shows. I should mention that the main female role in “The Cape” is played by Summer Glau some might know as River Tam in Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity series. She also was in his Dollhouse series for a while. Also in the area of superhero TV, but more comic book than superhero is “Human Target.” I think that’s on Wednesdays. I don’t watch that one in a timely manner. It’s on Fox, which means it’s not long for this world.
Wednesdays are also one of the “American Idol” nights. Already discussed that one. Don’t need to again. It’s a guilty pleasure–fun pop-culture tripe. Wednesdays are also “Modern Family”, which I’ve also already discussed.
Thursdays have “Big Bang Theory”. I’ve mentioned this in the past. This is the TV show for people of normal intelligence so they can laugh at smart characters and the silly things smart people do. It’s a bunch of smart physics PhD types, their friend the masters degree holding engineer and the normal girl who lives across the hall. Smart people will also be amused. My wife says I remind her of the smartest of the bunch, Sheldon. I disagree. Sheldon’s IQ, as mentioned in the show, is actually almost twenty points higher than mine. Statistically, for every thousand people with IQ’s in my range, there’s, like, one in Sheldon’s range. Sheldon has several Aspergers type idiosyncrasies that make him incompatible with most of society. And I don’t care if anyone sits on my spot of the couch unless I want to sit on it–and then everyone else just has to get off the couch except my wife can sit at the other end. I’m far more normal than he is. Sheldon is played by Jim Parsons, who won the Emmy and Golden Globe this year for the role. No one from Joss Whedon’s show is part of the main cast. Summer Glau was in one episode, as herself. Wil Wheaton (Star Trek’s Wesley Crusher) also makes an occasional appearance as himself, though I’d hope the show’s version is unrealistically dark and sadistic (that’s comedy flavored dark and sadistic, like lying about his grandmother’s death to gain an edge in a trading card game).
“Fringe” is also popular in our house. The supernatural scientific mystery drama has terrible science, allowable only because it’s so absurd, but consistent within itself. The characters are good, but not especially notable except the mad-scientist primary character “Walter Bishop”. Walter is missing parts of his brain (He might have taken them out himself) and spent 17 years as a patient in a psychiatric hospital. He is frequently inappropriate and has a tendency to have cravings for sweet foods, usually some kind of milkshake, while dealing with gory scenes. Currently Fringe is on Fridays, on Fox.
Also on Fridays, though only on that cable channel that almost no one has: Stars, is “Spartacus”. They’re currently airing the prequel series. This series is also available on Netflix on demand. Again, my kids are not allowed to watch this. In any given minute of the show there is a 80% chance of gory and bloody violence, sexuality with nudity, or extreme profanity. There’s a fifty percent chance of all three. This is great gratuitous entertainment for adult men, and some women. I can’t stress enough the adult part. The historical value is slight, not as much as say, Rome, but more than say, Xena. Speaking of Xena, you get to see Lucy Lawless, who played Xena, in Spartacus and the prequel series. And when I say you get to see her, you get to see all of her, and pretty much everyone else in the cast.
I didn’t mention everything I watch on TV, just everything that’s in season right now. I also watch, and this list may not be complete: Eureka, Warehouse 13, Burn Notice, Mythbusters and Pawn Stars, oh and NFL football if I care about who’s playing. Go Steelers.