Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Best Shows of 08...

Never to be out done by my colleague thought I would weigh in on my own personal choices for the best shows of 2008.

07. 30 Rock- I love this show because it is the comedy show where the writers and characters are more worried about whats funny, than trying to make great serious compassionate storylines with sympathetic characters. Lets face it, I'm watching this show just to hear clever jokes, funny scenes, and ridicuolous characters which is what exactly this show brings. Reminds me of a good Marx Brothers film going "Yeah we could bombard you with serious stories, humanistic but odd characters and try to resolve issues at the end while being goofy ("cough scrubs") but I think we'll just make you chuckle a bit." And Tina Fey is the first woman since Gilda Radner that can make me laugh out loud, and thats saying a lot. Best character though is Will Arnett: "No we're not GE anymore Jack, it's just G now, I sold the E to Samsung, their Samesung now...I was supposed to be in Conneticut 4 hours ago, which way is easy??"

06. The Shield- I've been watching this show since I was 12, every episode every Tuesday since it's be on and I am finally seeing the end of it all. And this is one of the few dramas that always delivers. Great camera work, perfect acting, gritty dark realism of the streets where the American dream no longer exists, and Vic Mackey the ulitmate in conflicting character. Hes as good as he is bad and vice versa. The strike team is finally being brought down, but all I'm curious about is...could this be the end of Vic??

05. The Daily Show- This show is what America needs, their funny, their smart, their original, their up-to-date on politcs, granted it would be better if they were less liberaly bias and took on both sides. But when these guys find something to riff on "The Bailout Bill, The McCain rallies, The Obama-McCain crowds acting as if this election will destory the world" Their right on target and damn funny too. This is and always will be Jon Stewart's show, especially since he lost Colbert and Carrell, but he found a witty counterpoint in the British John Oliver who brillantly has just been using his high form of satire perfectly. Favorite Line from John: "Oh god this election is over! I haven't been home in two years, I hope someone remembered to feed my cat...Meowgret Scratcher." But Stewart still has my all time favorite " what do you wanna do...discuss the economic market, while this election pulls our country in halves, while we sit here and chuckle at Sarah Palin's latest wink. Well guess what i don't fuckin feel like talking about that right now."

04. Arrested Development. Yeah I know it's off the air!!! But it's still better than 90 percent of the shit we are forced to shovel down as television these days. So it gets a place on this list! You don't like it...while Annyong to you!

03. Pushing Daisies. I'm a fan of anything that will be basically go, whats a boring old type of show we've seen time and time and time again. A: Murder mystery. Oh...well what if the show had Dr Seuss gadgets, colors from the wizard of Oz, a dark undertone to it, some of the best writers on television, and just an oddness to it we haven't seen since Twin Peaks??
I won't watch that...
Neither has most of America sadly but Pushing Daisies is one of the most original shows I have ever seen, its smart, completely different than anything else you will see on any tv station and a cast that is so (god forgive me for saying this word) quirkly perfect that you for once can just sit in, watch something just fun and entertaining and remember theres nothing wrong with entertainment when it's this well done.

02. Doctor Who. It's got the doctor, it's got Donna, it's got robots, it's got british humor, it's got a gigantic sci-fi epic ending, it's been on for nearly 45 years. WATCH IT!
Q: There's a man here...say's hes a doctor....
Scientist: Of medicine?
Q: Of everything

02. The Office- This is the best show on American basic cable. It's also probably the first and only time we've taken a British show and made it better. This show could not have a better cast, everyone is not great but perfect in their roles, their all funny in their own unique way, it's not like Friends where everyone is basically the same and we laugh at the same joke, no one is exactly alike and you can easily identify their personalities after a few words. What makes this season so great though is how smart the writers have been, they've given Michael less episodes revolving around him, hes funny as hell but too much can be too much, instead of using Jim and Pam and their relationship as the basis of every episode and doing the Scrubs thing where they make-up, break-up, ever few days, they smartly made them seal the deal, showed the audience these are people who really love each other, and BAM used their other cast members. No other show can be that smart, they took the lesser known funny characters and bulked em up to main characters which is great because those guys are already so funny. But don't be discouraged there is still plenty of Jim and Dwight. American Comedy...thy name is the Office
Pam over a phone: Ohhh cool shoes
Jim Answering her: How many shoes do you need
Dwight un-aware he's talking to Pam: I Dunno, 2, 3 if one wares out...

01. Sons of Anarchy. How do they do it? How does FX always manage to have the best, original, shows on television, they have had decent (The Riches, Testees, Nip/Tuck), Good (It's always sunny in philly, Rescue Me,) Great (The Shield, Damages) but this is far and away the high water mark of this network. The show could not be more riveting or funny. Every character is a bad ass but human, not like or their so senstive and emotional FUCK THAT!, these are real tough guys, loyal to their family and friends, but not afraid to throw a punch and than wine about it later. The names of the characters just spell out cool...Jacks, Bobby Elvis, Opie, Tigs, Jenna, and The King...Clay Morrow.(Sounds like someone who could share the piss out of the devil) But above all else the stories are always compelling and interesting, the lines are funny yet never feel like they are script written, the characters are all played perfectly. This show is the best thing on television. Nothing even compares to it. This show is so good I say it late on wednedays and come late to parties just to catch the full episode. If this show gets another season...sign me up as A son cause I wanna go along for the full ride.

Best TV Shows of the Year

So usually I'm in major agreement with whatever the wonderful people over at Paste Magazine say. However, I find myself in direct disagreement with most of their list of the 10 best TV programs of the year. So I've decided to do what any college student with nothing but time on his hands and a blog would do, make my own! I was only able to come with 8 shows that I genuinely believed deserved to be mentioned. So here they are...

8. Brotherhood (Showtime)
Most people tend to categorize this as the Irish version of The Sopranos. While this may be true, i pose the question, why would you not want to watch that? The show is based around an Irish (extended) family in the fictional neighborhood of "The Hill" in Providence, Rhode Island. Brothers Tommy, Patrick "Paddy", and Michael Caffee. The three comprise a mini-mafia and show develops from there. The characters are marvelously written, and the show is passionate beyond belief. Season three started in the beginning of November, but i would highly recommend starting from the beginning.

7. Family Guy (Fox)
A show that certainly needs to introdution or back-story to anyone under thirty years of age, Family Guy has come back with a vengence this season. I would go so far as to say that this is the best season since it was cancelled back in 2003. My evidence, just watch "The Road to Germany" and you'll be back on board with the whole franchise.

6. Weeds (Showtime)
Although the third season wasn't nearly as compelling as the past two, I still very much enjoyed the run. Nancy and her family moved out of Agrestic, unfortunately, the majority of the supporting characters did not move with her. All in all though, the uninterrupted thirty minute run time does wonders for the flow. It allows a season to play out like a movie extended over weeks of time. If you've never seen it I'd highly recommend it. I mean what's not to love about a widow selling pot in her neighborhood to support her two kids after her husband dies?

5. Life on Mars (ABC)
I'm going to be the first to admit that the majority of the acting in this show is sub-par. However, Harvey Keitel delivers enough of a performance to make up for everyone else around him. And yes, it is a re-make of a UK show by the same name. The most redeeming quality of the show though, you actually feel like you're looking at New York City in 1973. From the costumes to the set designs to the plot lines, everything gels in perfection. So if you can get past Jason O'Mara not being the next Jimmy Stewart, you'll get a kick out of this one.

4. Primeval (BBC America)
Season 2 of Primeval was every bit as entertaining as season one was. It is the story of Nick Cutter, a professor of archeology and his crack team (Stephen the badass, Connor the thechie/super-nerd, and Abby the animal expert) traversing the UK and finding anomalies which are holes in our dimension that lead to other times in history. I would not recomend it to any of my non-nerd friends, but to all of my fellow nerds, this show is for you!

3. The Office (NBC)
Another show that needs no introduction or explanation. I have enjoyed this season so much, mostly for two reasons. One being the development and screen time that many of the minor characters have gotten this season (mostly my boy Andy Bernard!). And second, there has not been too much Michael Scott, and when he has been on, he hasn't been overbearingly annoying like in past seasons.

2. Sons of Anarchy (FX)
Now when I first saw a preview for this show I wanted to see it immediately. It takes a lot to have a great preview and then turn around and deliver a show that is equally as good, much less stay incredible for the duration of a season. So far the Sons has delivered. I don't want to classify it as a dramady, but that's almost what it is. It's the story of an outlaw biker gang and their external and internal struggles. Fantastically written, amazing characters, it really just keeps you glued to the set wondering what in the hell could possibly happen next.

1. Doctor Who (BBC America)
The Doctor!! Season Four!! Donna Noble!! Do I even need to say anything else? Oh yeah, best season finale in the history of television, I'll admit it, I cried.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Album you must hear.

Punk rock... a term thrown around so loosely these days. Hardcore, grindcore, pop-punk, ska, speed metal, 77 punk, and numerous other genre's have sprung up from these two words. The one thing that as always remained pure though no matter what genre it is, is that the music comes from your soul, no bullshit it always come from what the singer/songwriter is feeling. There have been many great albums and bands sprung up from this idea...that the music is what matters getting your opinions and emotions out is what counts. Of all those though I believe though one record stands out as the most raw album ever, it is punk rock in the sense that it is real, genuine, painful, emotional, life affirming, and honest. Everything punk stands for.
That album is the Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon.
Never in any other genre will you find the sense of pain found in Lennon's voice on the opening track "Mother." Numerous groups have given great throat shredders or emotional pleas but what Lennon gives is pure pain, the real kind. Lennon's mother died when he was just a teen and his father abandoned him before he ever got to know him. This is a man singing lyrics that are real, he knows what it really means to be abandoned, what it really is to feel all alone. When he screams "Mama don't go! Daddy come home!" there is no mistaking the feeling of hurt. No one else in music has ever come close to hitting that point since.
Ever song on the album bleeds real and sincerity but I will only point out the ones that need to be heard, other than should be heard. The plea for help in "Hold On" is the best song ever written about going on. So many groups recently have talked about suicide as a way to escape the pain, Lennon gives the life affirming praise that it hurts but hold on things will get better, in the music the listener can literally feel that he's right.
The angry "Working Class Hero" is the best anthem without drums. The songs lyrical rawness about being proud of being a working stiff, of being an indivdual in a world that demands conformity, is incredible to hear. It's one of the few songs that can really inspire someone, that can make the listener really feel proud of who they are.
"God" even the title is powerful, but don't be fooled this is not a religious hymn. Like Working Class Hero this is a song about believing in one's self over running to others for answers. Not only religious icons but leaders, musicians, people in history who we know follow Lennon sweeps off, including his old band. The song is a clean slate really, for John and for the listener, it is life affirming when he says "The dream is over" because it feels more as if he is telling to quit living the dream and life your life. Don't follow icons or others follow yourself.
The album does not have a bad cut and I recommend this as an album to just light a joint to, sit back, and just let the songs roll, let them enter your mind really listen. There's no pop here, no catchy tunes, or political slogans, only a human being giving the most emotionally record ever recorded. Punk rock has always preached being real and being true, Lennon than is the truest of them all, he walked like he talked, he never sold out, he sang only of what he believed was true, and he didn't care if anyone is listening, he wasn't looking to back a canidate, or help our a specific cause, his only belief was we are all humans and we should all love one another, no arguments.
That is life, that is raw, that is real, that ladies and gentleman is the Plastic Ono Band.