Top Ten Favorite TV Shows

1.) The Office (American Version)

Every few years, I’m drawn back to this show.  It never ceases to be funny–I recently rewatched the “Diversity Day” episode from the first season and, despite the fact that I’ve seen the episode at least four times, was rolling on the floor laughing.  This show is just so funny–the characters are enjoyable, maddening, and consistent.  Also, Jim and Pam will forever be my ultimate TV OTP.

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2.) Downton Abbey

Yes, the show was at it’s best in it’s first two seasons.  Yes, I’m one of the troopers who held out until the very end.  This show is everything I love about British period dramas–it addresses and explores historical social issues with a healthy dose of romance.  Plus, it’s just so pretty.  The sets, the costumes, everything is lavish and gorgeous.  One thing I also enjoy is that it fully develops almost every single character–using subtleties to show, not tell.  And then there’s Maggie Smith, who is one of the show’s gems. Continue reading

Bad Television Addict

Every so often, I find myself in the mood to watch bad television.  Normally, this isn’t a problem.  But I’m learning that there’s a threshold between watching bad television ironically and falling head-over-heels in love with it.  I’m still not sure where that line is.

You see, when it comes to TV, I have standards.  No Twilight.  No reality shows involving weddings, houses, or eating gross food.  Actually, no reality shows PERIOD.  And for goodness sake, NO Kardashians.

I feel like the majority of shows I watch aren’t cringe-worthy.  I’ve got my period dramas, from Downton Abbey and The Paradise.  Then there’s fun fantasy shows like Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, and Merlin.  On a more serious note, I also like Game of Thrones, which is one of the most well-told stories I’ve ever seen on screen.  Of course, I like superhero shows such as Arrow and The Flash.  Not to mention The Musketeers, which is both historical AND action-packed.  Finally, I like quirky comedies like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Every once in a while, though, I find myself indulging in television that I know is just crap.

Most of my indulgences include poorly written teen flicks and anything found on the Hallmark Channel.  For those of you who aren’t versed in American cable TV, Hallmark is the mecca of sappy love stories featuring mediocre actors and plots you can predict for a mile away.

A couple of weeks ago, I curled up in bed and opened my laptop.  Flipping my web browser to Netflix, I fully intended to finally start watching Gilmore Girls.  (I’ve heard great things for a long time and feel like I need to get on the bandwagon.)  What I ended up clicking on was nothing of the sort.

The show I ended up watching was a low-budget, highly Christian period drama set on the Western Canadian frontier. I pegged the protagonist’s romantic lead within five minutes of starting the show and could see a long, slow trail of attraction, confusion, courtship, separation, more confusion, etc. etc. etc.  The show oozed sentimentality.  When the first episode ended, I spent a moment basking in the mediocrity.

Then I watched the next episode.

Long story short, I managed to watch two seasons (approximately 20 hours) of the show in five days… on top of working 50+ hours that week.  At first, I couldn’t look away because of how cringe-worthy it was.  But then something shifted.

I made the mistake of watching the show’s final episode (up to date) late at night.  It was a cliff-hanger.  The romantic lead was about to finally ask the protagonist to marry him… only to walk in on the leading lady being proposed to BY ANOTHER MAN.  To which I respond, “What does she say?  She can’t marry him!  She’s in love with the other guy!  No!  NOOO.  This is not happening.  PLEASE TELL ME THIS IS NOT HAPPENING.  I CAN’T HANDLE THIS!!!”  It took forever to fall asleep simply because I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened to the characters.

The next morning, I realized something.  Somewhere along the line, I stopped watching the show because it was bad.  Instead, I watched the show because I was obsessed.  And I thought:

How does this happen?  How do we get sucked in so easily to things we know are poor quality?  How do they worm their way into our hearts?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  But I now have a guilty pleasure show and am counting down the days until the next season premiers around Christmastime.

What are your guilty pleasure shows?  What bad TV do you enjoy?  Let me know in the comments!

Shows (I think) you should be watching

When it comes to TV shows, I’m fairly particular.  People are always giving recommendations for what to watch next, but I often struggle with their choices.  You see, I really struggle committing to shows.  Being a busy student, I only have so much time to devote to staying on top of TV.  I really hesitate spending time on a show if I’m not going to fall head-over-heels in love with it.  In general, shows that are character driven usually bore me.  Sitcoms, medical shows, crime dramas… it feels like the same thing over and over again.  I get bored quickly.  I tend to favor shows that are more plot-based where episodes build into a larger story arc.

Because I’m a tough-sell, when I for a show, I fall HARD.  That being said, I don’t make recommendations lightly.  If you’re looking for something new to watch, here are some shows I’ve been obsessed with lately.

Arrow

When my brother first recommended this to me, I was like “Eh, no thanks.  Not my thing.”  I gave the first few episodes a chance, but quickly lost interest.  Although I love superhero movies, the characters didn’t feel like anything special and the plot wasn’t anything to write home about.  However, this summer, I kept hearing people talk about how AMAZING this show is.  “Season one is good,” my older brother explained, “but it’s definitely something you have to push through.  Season two, though… season two is absolutely phenomenal.”

So I gave Arrow another chance.  And my brother was right.  Season one is a little rough, but it picks up and season two… Season two is one of the best seasons of a show I’ve ever seen.  Every episode is solid and the finale is absolutely incredible.  The third season is currently on and, although it’s less gripping than its predecessor, it’s still one of my favorite shows on t.v.

The Paradise

During my sophomore year of college, my roommate and I stumbled upon a Masterpiece Classic show called Mr. Selfridge about an American entrepreneur who sets up a department store in London.  We were immediately sucked in (mainly because we liked Henri, the French window display designer).  As time went on, though, the show was disappointing.  Our favorite characters made choices we weren’t comfortable with.  The story got boring.

When I was in England, one of my British friends presented an alternate option.  The Paradise is also about a department store.  Lead by the charismatic Mr. Moray, the show plunges into the workings of the store and its employees.  The show’s heroine is Denise Lovett, a sharp small town girl with a natural knack for business.

The Paradise, unfortunately, only has two seasons.  But if you’re a fan of BBC dramas, you’ll like this show.  The characters are endearing and the story is downright charming.  (Also, I’d like to note that the trailer below makes it look more racy than it actually is.)

The Musketeers

I grew up watching adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ novel.  I’ve always loved The Three Musketeers.  Each adaptation aims at capturing the heart of the novel and, although each does so differently, there are portions of the plot remain the same.  D’Artagnan always goes to Paris to avenge his father.  He always joins up with trusty Musketeers Athos, Aramis, and Porthos.  They always strive to protect the King of France against the wiles of Cardinal Richelieu and Milady de Winter. How the story goes depends on the adaptation.  The problem, though, is that none of them seem to succeed at telling the story right.  The 1993 version with Charlie Sheen is too campy.  The 2001 adaptation deviates from the core story too much.  The Mickey Mouse version is… well… it’s Mickey Mouse.  And the 2011 version with Logan Lerman is an absolute train wreck.

Then, last winter, the BBC came out with a television series based on the book that is ABSOLUTE GOLD.  It’s The Three Musketeers as I have always wanted it.  The acting is good, character development solid, and the story is exciting.  It’s got an excellent blend of political intrigue, romance, and swashbuckling action.  It’s an absolutely fantastic show and, for whatever reason, I’m the only one I know who watches it.

What are some of your favorite t.v. shows?  Are there any you think I’d like?  Let me know in the comments!

Friday Favorites 9

Time for another edition of Friday Favorites…

A cup of tea on a chilly afternoon

Temperatures, in true Minnesota fashion, have dipped into the fifties this week and it feels like Fall for the first time!  After a summer of athletic shorts and grubby t-shirts, I’ve finally brought out my cardigans, scarves, leggings, and boots.  After a full morning of classes and time at the gym, I settled into a flannel and leggings to read Dickens.  What better way to complete the afternoon by brewing a cup of tea?

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My Shakespeare mug only makes things that much better.

This article:

What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, and Why It’s Killing Doctor Who

Yes, it was written almost a year ago.  But the writer perfectly articulates my frustrations with the recent seasons of Doctor Who.  I picked up the show back in high school when David Tennant still reigned supreme under the guidance of Russell T. Davies.  Since then, the fandom has swollen and it’s become part of nerdy pop culture.  Which, honestly, I’m fine with because it’s a great show.  But the past few seasons have left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I haven’t been sure why.  This article hits the nail on the head.  If you’re a Doctor Who fan, I definitely encourage you to check it out!

Nothing Much to Do

I’m a big fan of literary web shows.  In fact, I just did an informative speech on them in class today!  Shortly after giving said speech, a friend texted me saying “You are to use this weekend to actually watch Nothing Much to Do.  This is your new homework.”  I had picked up this fun adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing last year, watched a few episodes, and never went further.  But, as my friend commanded, I resumed watching again and have really enjoyed it!  The acting is decent, production of a good quality, and you gotta love those New Zealand accents!

This Canoe Trip:

This summer, as part of our extended Program staff training at camp, we were treated two what I affectionately call the Canoe Trip from Hell.  The trip included being woken up at three in the morning and two full days on the Brule River with essentially no food.  I wrote a short post about it a few months ago with more details.

Here we all are at the end of our trip, triumphant on the shore of Lake Superior.  Good grief, I miss these people.

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That is all for this week’s edition of Friday Favorites!  With that, I’m going to settle in for a quiet, relaxing weekend in Morris.

Got any exciting plans this weekend?  Feel free to tell me about them in the comments!

 

Friday Favorites 8

It’s the final day of my school week and after a two and a half hour lecture on media literacy, you could say I’m trying to cling to whatever bits of joy I can.  So, what better way to cheer me up than with another Friday Favorites?

This book:

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Originally recommended to my mother by extended family, I recently picked up the novel Outlander by Diana Galbadon.  It tells the story of Claire Beauchamp, a nurse recently reunited with her husband in the aftermath of World War II.  While vacationing in Scotland, Claire touches a mysterious stone and finds herself transported back in time to the year 1743.  Alone amid the tribal clans of the Scottish Highlands, she finds herself torn between returning to her own time and the love she finds in her new life.

I’m not very far into the book yet, but so far I’m enjoying it!  After studying abroad in the UK, I tend to latch on to anything that brings me back.  The characters are interesting and engaging, and the story definitely appealing. I love the historical elements, especially Claire’s perspective and experience from WW II in contrast with the warlike Highlands and (impending) Jacobite rebellions.

My main issue with the book is the amount of steamy romance.  I enjoy a love story as much as any other girl, but the constant sex is more than mildly irritating.  I find myself skipping pages at a time to avoid all the passionate bits.

This kitten:

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My older brother keeps sending me pictures of the kittens at home, resulting in me squirming around on the floor because they’re too adorable for me to handle.  (Much to the confusion and amusement of my roommates.)

This show:

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I started watching Arrow last Spring, having heard good things and seen bits and pieces about it on Tumblr.  However, with the semester ending, I only made it a couple episodes in until giving up.  Sometime this summer, though, I over heard some of my fellow camp staff gushing about how great it was.  My older brother, a comic book enthusiast, told me that it starts out slow and gets better as it goes along.  All parties insisted that season two was mind-blowingly-amazing.

I just finished the second, and most recent, season yesterday.  They were right.  Oh my goodness.  All my fandom “I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE THESE FEELS” urges are hard-core triggering.  It’s SUCH a fantastic show.

This song:

I first started listening to Bastille this summer, and this song has been in my head all week!

Have a great weekend!