I’m writing about TV today– one of my favorite topics– and an antidote to the 24/7 baseball vortex I’ve experienced this summer.
As I’ve mentioned– probably about a hundred times– we are all baseball all the time over here. In summer travel leagues, we’ve probably had at least 50 games between my three sluggers in just the last month. It’s difficult to make plans with friends or travel because our schedule is so relentless and unpredictable.
But the one respite I’ve had in these last few weeks is my shows. No matter how late we’re up hosing dugout dirt off the kids, or soothing a fragile ego in the middle of a slump– Wilson and I always make time for a show at the end of the night.
With all our regular network shows on hiatus, we’ve been able to catch up on some buzzworthy premium cable shows that were on our ever-growing list of must-see-TV.
We finally finished Breaking Bad. Whoa. Lived up to the hype. While I was very disturbed by what happened to Jesse and Skyler in the penultimate episodes, the finale was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Brilliantly conceived, directed and acted. Creator Vince Gilligan tied up the story realistically and effectively. My one complaint is that Skyler’s part was minimized to nothing in the last season or two. She started out so strong and rounded, but ended up as a prop with no back story or meaty scenes until the very last few minutes of the series. While I didn’t love Saul, I’ll watch Better Call Saul, (which debuts on AMC in 2015) because I trust Gilligan will make it compelling.
After saying goodbye to Walter White, we turned to the even darker True Detective. There are only 8 episodes of this HBO drama but each one feels like a movie. It’s Twin Peaks meets Seven. The show is set in the savage underbelly of the Louisiana bayou where two detectives– played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson– try to find a twisted serial killer who targets young women and sets up sacrificial altars by their bodies. The story jumps around in time, building suspense, but it’s the strong writing and complicated characters that grabbed me. Harrelson and McConaughey are both excellent as flawed, seething, selfish, narcissists. Unraveling their stories was a trip. No wonder the show just received 12 Emmy nods.
After immersing ourselves in drug lords and murdered prostitutes, we needed some levity. So every night after an hour of drama, we watched Showtime’s Episodes for a laugh. It’s a playful half-hour comedy starring Matt LeBlanc playing himself as a once huge TV star, now trying to stay relevant. The show features a British couple who created and wrote a hit sit-com in England, lured to Hollywood to produce an American version. Inevitably the network suits screw up the natural humor and originality of the British show and turn it into crap. It took me a few episodes of Episodes to get into it but once I was in, I fell hard. The characters– especially LeBlanc– are funny and engaging, and I love the irony of a show making fun of Hollywood behind-the-scenes with good writing, instead of predictable clichés.
But alas, we powered through all of those shows and needed a new focus. I’d heard good things about Masters of Sex on Showtime and was intrigued. It’s based on the relationship between William Masters and Virginia Johnson as they developed their scientific theories on human sexuality in the uptight late 50’s. The show is beautifully shot, the costumes are technicolored eye candy, and the acting is terrific. The writing is not as smart as some of our other favorites (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Girls) but the story is fascinating. I don’t know who is more gorgeous, Lizzy Caplan who plays Johnson or Caitlin Fitzgerald who plays Masters’ long suffering wife. And the sex scenes aren’t bad either.
After we reach the climax of Masters of Sex, we need to finally get Netflix so I can see what all the fuss is about on Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. We still have another month or so before the fall season begins!
What’s on your DVR? Tell me what you’re watching this summer in the comments.