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The last weeks of summer are fast approaching. As these penultimate days play-through, many face a difficult decision. Spend this fleeting time enjoying the verdant earth in all its lazy summer glory, or catch up on all the best TV shows before the Fall season comes around? This list is for those who choose the latter (better) option.
The best are:
After 149 episodes, the CW’s “Supernatural” has no right to still be this good. Seven years in and the classic, Patrick Swayze popularized, combination of paranormal activities and glistening abs has yet to lose its well-lubricated sheen. But to reduce its brilliance to a pair of favorably-positioned nipples is to do the series a great wrong. Ghoul hunters, Sam and Dean, have been to hell and back during the course of the show. Literally. The journey that the brothers have undertaken has been rife with drama, intrigue, action and wry wit.
Some of the narrative arcs during the middle seasons lagged; the fight for Sam’s soul became the fight for Dean’s soul, which became the fight for Sam’s soul, which became a long period of watching “Friends” re-runs instead. But, recently, “Supernatural” has returned to the ‘joie-de-vivre’ of its charismatic youth and season 8 ushers in the the fresh voice of new show-runner, Jeremy Carver (Being Human).
At its very best, “Supernatural” delivers breathtaking plot-twists that will hit the viewer like a souped up Chevy Impala barreling down a long, dark road. At its worst, “Supernatural” is still the show that has the guts to include God, THE God, as a primary character, and in “Supernatural”‘s worldview, God is no Yoda-meets-Santa Clause figure in a white robe and Birkenstocks.
So, come this fall season, “who you gonna call?”
The 1st and 2nd seasons of HBO’s prohibition gangster drama “Boardwalk Empire” have received a lot of somewhat counter-intuitive flack from the critics. Some suggest that many of the key elements of the show may constitute factors that could be described, unfavourably, as Emmy/Oscar-bait– expansive and involved plot, painstakingly reproduced sets, carefully maintained historical context, big name actors, and a pilot episode directed by Martin Scorcese.
But my gosh what a show! — expansive and involved plot, painstakingly reproduced sets, carefully maintained historical context, big name actors and a pilot episode directed by Martin Scorsese! In addition, taking a leaf out of “Game of Thrones’” gilded tome, “Boardwalk Empire” is not afraid to make the necessary sacrifices in the name of good TV. Some compare “Boardwalk Empire” to “Mad Men.” If this comparison is supposed to be a veiled insult, it’s very well hidden indeed; “Mad Men” is great, and so is this show.
Many people would approach with skepticism any reviewer who recommends the CW’s adolescent soapie, “Gossip Girl”, as appropriate viewing material for the thinking mind. But, this much dismissed show has been the medium for some of the greatest TV plot-twists of the past 5 years. Yes, a lot of the “Gossip Girl’s” screen-time is taken up by frequent scenes of attractive hairless people making out next to superbly maintained indoor pools, but one can forgive the writers their indulgent moments if one takes into consideration two truths:
The combination of these two basic principles has been enough to attract some incredible guest stars not only amongst actors, but also amongst the Manhattan gliterati.
The last season was not good, it’s true. However, nobody, nowhere, nohow does a finale like “Gossip Girl” does. And, as this 7th season is slated to be the show’s last, one can expect the UESiders to go out not with a whimper, but a bang (no pun intended.)
Though Zooey Deschanel cavorts around in broad-rimmed glasses being all adorkable on Fox’s “New Girl,” the real home of weird is most certainly NBC’s “Community.” Having been on the verge of cancellation, the show has undergone some changes– namely, Dan Harmon has recently been ejected from his position as showrunner.
Nonetheless, the thing that keeps “Community” consistently hysterical is an unshakably strong ensemble cast whose comedic chemistry is infectious; “Community” is “Friends” meets “Big Bang Theory” meets a whole planet of crazy. Everything on the show is done with complete and utter commitment and the ever revolving chain of guest writers has made for 3 seasons in which every episode has been totally unique. Changtastic.
The Walking Dead
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has been breaking records (and fictional skulls) everywhere during its first two seasons on air. The success of the show is unsurprising considering the fact that its list of screenwriters includes names that would make Shakespeare blush in professional shame. Oh, and there are zombies too!
“The Walking Dead” is shot so convincingly that one might be forgiven for feeling like one was actually watching footage of the Zombie Apocalypse– it’s gray, it’s bleak and it’s gory. However, before the world at large grabs a 9 gauge in one hand and a ‘Queen’ record in the other, one should remember that this is only a show– albeit a very good one.
Parks and Recreation
Leslie Knope and the colorful inhabitants of Pawnee– the US’s most dysfunctionally happy city–transform middle America from a cautionary Green Day music video into the epitome of rustic charm. Miraculously consistent, “Parks and Rec” is poised for another great season driven by its 2 most compelling, and always hilarious, isms: optimism and Swansonism.
Has political correctness gone mad? Not really, because somebody somewhere continues to endorse the televising of “Raising Hope.” Unsurprisingly, that somebody is a TV executive at Fox. But, where Fox regular Seth MacFarlane is crude, brash and in-your-face, “Raising Hope” approaches its subjects with subtlety. Indeed, for a show whose titular character is the illegitimate toddler of a convicted serial killer and a ‘special’ checkout clerk who lives with his white-trash parents, “Raising Hope” has managed to lend a surprising degree of intelligent, quirky restraint to both its 1st and 2nd season.
The beauty of this show is that, in a world of seat-squirmingly bleak “Louie,” “Peep Show” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Modern Family” gives its audience a chance to laugh with, not at, it. In the last season, particularly, many of the most hilarious moments were tempered with genuine sentiment, edging away from the didacticism of the voice-over with some raw, very human, emotion. “Modern Family” is apple-pie and ice cream and a Christmas sweater. It is also very funny.