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State of the Tube: Television 2012-13

Is he really going to write about television, again?  Yes, he’s really going to write about television… again. This is what happens during winter here, in Minnesota.  Those of us who don’t snowmobile, cross-country ski, downhill ski, ice skate, ice fish, play hockey, or participate in any indoor group sporting activities sit on our asses and watch television.  That said – sitting remains the second favorite thing I like to do with my butt (which might help explain my ever deflating ass).

As of this writing?  34 days and counting until April 1st.  Spring cannot get here any too soon.

Yes, I continue to watch too much television.  And that’s bad, mmm’kay?  I compensate for my boob tube obsession by having less than five drinks a month, watching my diet, and hitting the gym for at least one hour-five days a week.  As for my brain, I do crossword puzzled (badly), write (badly), do research, and read the occasional book.  I just started reading a new book.  I figure to have it completely read in about six months (yes, I am sloooooowwwww).   During that same six months I will have consumed at least 500 hours of television.  Yep, that’s averaging 3 hours per day. 

Now, granted, a good portion of that is spent watching the same episodes of The Simpsons, Family Guy, and The Big Bang Theory that I have seen at least five times each.  Seriously.  Sometimes they play in the background as I surf the web, but they are on all the time (syndication / TBS / Cartoon Network).   And if there is nothing else worthwhile (does that adjective apply to ANY television programming?) on, I will find one of those stations that plays the latter two shows mentioned ad nauseam and tune in (or out, depending on your point of view). 

Oh, and confession time… the real reason I wanted to write about television?  So that I could post pics of the hottest men on television.  When possible I tried to find pics without shirts… but, honestly, some of them really should keep their shirts on.  I mean, I find them hot, and would love to get naked with them, but some are not take-your-shirt-off-in-public hot, if you know what I mean.

For better or worse, here is a brief summary of the hours and hours spent NOT watching The Simpsons, Family Guy, and The Big Bang Theory:

Things I Watched:

American Horror Story: Asylum
 Hmmm. I lost interest mid-season, but then came back for the final three episodes.  To be honest, the moment the aliens landed, I bailed.  Like that was necessary?  Really?  What with demons, Catholicism, a corrupt insane asylum, a guilt-ridden nun, a Nazi war criminal performing biological experiments on the patients and creating his very own Island of Dr. Mureau, a lesbian reporter being held against her will, to say nothing about the multiple serial killers running about (Santa, Bloody Face, Bloody Face the Sequel) – did we really need to go… there?  Oh, and I forgot the angel of death in the form of Francis Conroy – beautiful, but under-utilized. 

Okay… let’s face it, there was a lot going on in this show.  It was the horror television equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting.  I mean, splat – let’s have an exorcism,  splat – let’s turn the tables on Jessica Lange, splat- let’s bring back Dylan McDermott and have him chase around and kill that dude from Maroon 5 (something I would not be totally against). 

Bottom Line:  Okay, so here is the surprising thing.  I just checked out a list of all the episodes and guess what – I never missed any.  It just felt like I did.  That demonstrates just how much they crammed into this season.  Did I like it?  Probably.  I guess I am now plot weary where this series is concerned.  Will I watch next season?  Probably.  But I really am plot weary.   And I must confess; there was one thing they didn’t put in this season that they should have – and that would be more male butt.  Seriously missed Dylan’s buns, man.  Those motherfuckers really should be given their own series.

I continue to enjoy this show.  But something is amiss.  While I am enjoying the romance between Tess and Ryan (which may be coming to an end, because there is no such thing as a three-day away game), I am not enjoying George’s current fling with Dallas.  Dallas is too out there, too surreal, and makes George look and seem like a stupid monkey man.  Which is a shame, because George is so hot.  It’s not working.  I continue to like the Shay’s.  And, as I suspected, they have regulated Mr. Wolfe to gay cliché’ land.   But Carly Chaikin as Dalia Oprah Royce remains a national treasure.  Nobody can deadpan like that be-yotch.

Bottom line: The show has lost it satiric focus.  It now seems content to make all the characters whacky as hell and that… is sad; because without the heart and critical eye, it just ain’t very interesting, y’all.

Happy Endings
So, last year, this was the one I thought would be this year’s runaway hit.  But they got screwed on their time slot and I also feel like no one is minding the children.  Remember that intoxicating high the casts’ banter gave me during their first season?  Yeah, well, now it comes off as shrill, desperate, and unpleasant.  In fact, I can honestly say that I do not like ANY of the main characters any more. They are awful, stupid, selfish, self-absorbed people.  It took me several seasons of Seinfeld to reach that same conclusion; this show managed to do that within three episodes of their second season. 

Bottom Line:  I gave up.  I surrendered.  If I want to feel the way this show makes me feel I will just huff some spray paint, rub my skin with a brillo pad, and stick my head in a blender.   Which is a damn shame, because the show has one of the few gay characters that I approve of and like.

Wore out its welcome with one, too many, really, really ‘special’ episodes.  A damn shame.  There were some talented folks involved here.  But you can only fuck with the reality of a sitcom for so long before people stop watching.

Parks and Recreation
This has become one of the most enjoyable shows on television.  I love the cast, and the addition of Lucy Lawless hit just the right mark.  Best ensemble on television.  Incredible writing.

30 Rock
Fading away right on schedule.  It’s over.  And this season has proven that.  Plays well in syndication; though it will not be added to my The Simpsons, Family Guy, and The Big Bang Theory shows-in-syndication trifecta.

Bob’s Burger
The best animated series out there right now.  I love the characters and the writing is spot on.  I have yet to walk away disappointed.  The kids remain a major highlight, with Tina coming into her own this season, but the adults have grown on me a lot, especially Linda, Bob’s musical-theatre, life’s a party, nerd wife.  She’s a hoot. 

Raising Hope
So, Sabrina and Jimmy got married.  And this season there has been a lot more ‘My Name is Earl’ winky-winks.  Burt and Virginia remain reliable and enjoyable and Cloris Leachman continues to steal the show when allowed.   A likeable cast.  A likeable show.  So… why do I want more of… something?  I can’t even put my finger on it, but I think it has to do with character development.  I want to learn more about their lives and could do without all the whacky plots. 

Cougar Town
Yay… it came back (TBS).  And it is still firing on all cylinders, getting great mileage out of what worked the first time around.  It will go down in history as one of the worst titled series of all time, but other than that… what’s not to like? Lots of sexy men.  I even find the sexy in Bob Clendenin.  This season we have been privy to a lot of past history stuff, which has helped add dimension to the characters.  They so zany!  They so wealthy.  They so white!  So, I am waiting for a bit more reality to seep its way in, but otherwise, dive in, the water is fine.

The Middle
If Raising Hope is My Name is Earl, then The Middle continues to be Malcolm in The Middle.  But those were great shows and so are these.  The Middle may actually be the best show on television!  It is really well-written and the cast seems to have found their stride.  Sure, Patricia Heaton remains less than convincing at times (she’s a sitcom veteran, and it, unfortunately, shows) – but the cast has found a way of making her stagey/stiltedness work.  This season?  I am fascinated with Sue Heck and her new, budding romance.  Eden Sher is a knock-out performer.  Credit the writers for finally giving her more to do than pratfalls.  Neil Flynn and Charlie McDermott are also standouts.

P.S. – Where’s Chris Kattan?  I know she doesn’t work at the car dealership anymore, but – he was pretty involved with the family.

New Girl
I still hate Zooey Deschanel.  Watch her closely: she cannot deliver a single line without pausing in the middle of it and checking herself to make sure she’s being ‘quirky’ enough.  Or maybe she’s just a horrible actress.  The rest of the cast is first rate.  The writing has greatly improved.  This replaced Happy Endings in my viewing schedule.  And no one is more surprised than ‘moi’.

The Mindy Project

Left Behind (or Below):
South Park
The Walking Dead
The Fashion Police
The Soup
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Things I was ‘Supposed To’ Watch, Which Made me ‘Not Wanna’:
Breaking Bad
Downtown Abbey
Mad Men

The Romance Is Now Over Award:
Modern Family
The groove they are in is so deep it is now officially a rut.  Sure, Phil is still good for a goofy laugh or two, but the rest?   Claire bounces between being shrill and being stupid.  Gloria flits between being shrill and a horrible racial stereotype (making fun of ‘thee Eeeeng-lesh’ is only funny so long).  Jay is a curmudgeon with a heart of gold (blech) and Cam and Mitch seem trapped in a ‘gay is cute’ cliché.  Cam, in particular, needs a good kick.  Putting him in a ‘Cats’ costume?  And then having him sit in a tree?  OH… I get it now.  Oh, Lucy, you so funny!  At least the kids are interesting.  Kudos to Lily, Manny, Luke and Alex.

Currently, the writers seem content to present these characters as one-dimensional beings – which is the height of laziness.  Take some god damn risks!   This is the only half-hour sitcom that feels likeit’s an hour long – and not in a good way.  That said, I really like the French Bulldog.  That dog should get a lot more camera time.

The Romance Is Still Over Award:
How I Met Your Mother
Have baby.  Baby go boom-boom.  Show go belly up in the water.   Robin and Doogie Howser are getting married.  Ted is about to meet ‘Your Mother’- finally (although I bet they drag that whole thing out for two more seasons – and then the actual courtship and wedding for two more ).  And I do not care anymore.  I don’t like anyone on the show anymore.  I don’t care about them.  Blech.  Hate this show.  It’s Friends, without the good common sense to go off the air.

Is This Still a Thing? Award:
Two Broke Girls
 Do I even have to explain why?

Should Never Have Been a Thing Award:
The New Normal
To be fair, one (Normal) tried a lot harder than the other.  Normal at least attempted to bring homophobia to the foreground in the form of a really-in-fine-form Ellen Barkin.  But for every one step forward the writers seem to take, they take at least two steps back.  Not helping?  Justin Bartha’s and
Andrew Rannells’ portrayals.  Do these two even know a real gay person?  Could someone please inform them that it is not 1982 and they don’t need to ‘act’ that way to be considered ‘gay’?

But as bad as The New Normal is, Partners seems trapped in its own particular brand of sitcom hell.  Again, what year is it?  And how are these even remotely believable, ‘funny’ portrayals of gay people?  Sorry , this is nothing more than a gay minstrel show and should really be outlawed.

Can’t Seem To Watch You… At All:
Up All Night
I really tried this year.  I caught like five episodes.  I hate babies.  I hate sitcoms about how difficult it is to be a parent.  I do not relate.  I like everyone in the cast.   I do not like this show.  I will not be watching this show any more. 

It’s The Same Old Song Award:
The Simpsons
Family Guy
I keep waiting for the episode where Grandpa Simpson is a robot.

A Horrible, Horrible Song that Someone Must Put an End to Soon Award:
The Cleveland Show
Could the writers of this show get any lazier?  I have watched three episodes recently and been appalled by the lack of a basic original thought or idea.  They now seem to get by doing riffs on old movies and having fun with history.  The worst?  An episode where - I guess - I mean, I couldn’t really tell what the intention was, but they kept dropping the characters in different racial cultures, or something.  It was just awful; painful to watch.  And offensive on a levels not even achieved by Family Guy. 

It’s as if the writers no longer want jobs.  As if they are trying to kill the show on purpose because they, too, hate it.  If that is the case, please, by all means, let them succeed.

Thing I Watch that I Will NOT Admit I Watch:
Judge Judy
She should run the world (and knock some sense into it).

I Miss…
Jeffery & Cole Casserole
Logo, do the world a favor and put this back on the air.  I know it ended in 2010, but it was brilliant, refreshing, never boring, cheap to make, and oh-so-fucking-hilarious.  I miss these kids.  I really do.

That’s a Wrap…
There’s a lot I don’t/won’t watch.  So if your favorite isn’t here (RuPaul’s Drag Race, anyone?), sorry.  I can only consume so much television.

I wish that were true of food.


The Vintage Hottie known as O!Daddie said...

Interesting that most of the stuff you 'watch', I've either never heard of or have rarely seen. I'm a PBS, any cooking show, I Love Lucy, RuPaul, RH of BH, NJ and Mob Wives junkie. Add any vintage movie; preferably in a period setting and seen by me at least a dozen times and I'm a happy camper.

Network TV to me is a total waste, Cable not much better and I cancelled my subscriptions to HULU and Netflix. I can't stand the endless commercials which assault me from every media device I own.

I read; Nook mostly, write occasionally and Blog every day. No sex to speak of since my partner decided he was done with all that but neglected to alert the media, (me), so I've perfected the art of NAP.

My extremely vivid sex dreams are better entertainment than anything on TV these days. :>)~

Stan said...

Aside from Judge Judy who I love too, I've never seen any of these shows you list either.
I think it might be a generational thing. I'm 61 y/o. I like a lot of the shows on HBO and Showtime which of course are premium channels but it's worth it to me for what they offer compared to Network TV. I like MSNBC too of course being the bleeding heart liberal I am. Also Discovery, Bravo and Turner Classic Movies.

Skilled4Men said...

I love these reviews and ensuing Awards! ...and you're not alone with Deflating Ass Affliction!!!
Predominately, an MSNBC Junkie here as well... Cougar Town is quite refreshing, and best enjoyed if you drink along! LOL It leaves me feeling happy/lighthearted.
Garret Dillahunt as Burt in Raising Hope... shirtless/dumb works quite well here! I sometimes worry 'bout the strong attraction!!!
Big Bang Theory - Always good for laughs!
Rarely do I watch intently though, usually a supplement/background to time spent online.

Boi Vice said...

Wow... your watching habits are very similar to mine. :)

You summed up American Horror Story perfectly - much darker this season and a bit too much lets throw everything at it.

I stopped watching The Middle when Patricia Heaton made comments about Sandra Fluke on her Twitter. I know she appologized but I refuse to give her ratings - eliminate her and the show would improve as you suggest.

Do you ever watch Southland?

SEAN said...

I watch way too much TV too and will have it on in the background no matter what I'm doing - well one matter I turn it off for.

We don't have similar tv taste but I can't get enough of Big Bang or Supernatural. Will always get stuck on a Buffy Marathon. My current must see's are Once Upon a Time, Suits, Merlin, and a few others.

You really should give The New Normal another chance. It has gotten so much better- really developing the characters and every week shatters stereotypes and bigots. I was bawling last week and laughed my ass off too. How can you not watch the little girl go from doing Maggie Smith as both Professor McGonagall and Dowager Countess and then do Taylor Swift and totally dis her! Then a hot males strip fantasy and then a husband in tight-whities? All before the opening credits!

Tannedmusc said...

I totally agree with you on most of these shows.." three day away game " ....Suburgatory is really starting to lose its charm with the George and Dallas thing, but EVERYTHING Dalia says is pure gold !!!...The whole E Chadwick story line I thought was VERY funny !!! I love checkin in on your blog. Your subjects are funny, informative and spot on perfect in how you present it ...LOVE it, very hot !!!

Upton King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Upton King said...

anks for all the comments. I really appreciate it.

O!Daddie: PBS offers some great stuff. I feel about reality television the way you feel about network television. Those Housewife shows? Really. And I love naps. I never pass up the opportunity when it presents itself.

Stan - I don't know about it being generational. But you might have a point. That said, I would love to watch those premium channels, but I pay too much as it is. I love free T.V. As far as new goes? I read it on-line throughout the day (Huffington Post is as bad as Fox, but I can't help myself.)

Skilled4Men: I have never watched MSNBC. I don't have an excuse, either, other than I read on-line. As for shirtless... every actor pictured is someone I'd love to get naked with. Just so long as they NEVER talk about their work. (Actors are so self-involved; you know, in the same way bloggers are).

Boi Vice - I was not aware of the Patricia Heaton / Sandra Fluke thing. How could someone have a vagina and say anything bad about Sandra Fluke? Sandra has gotten a worse ride by the conservative right than Anita Hill. I have to read up on it before passing judgement, but I still kind of like Patricia because of Raymond - which I only watched in syndication.

Tannedmusc: Agree: East Chadwick was a great television - I loved the ending. And thanks for your kind words.

Those of you with blogs I visit and comment on - I really appreciate your stuff. Your blogs are way better than anything I watch on t.v.

Thanks for reading. - Uptonking from Wonderland Burlesque

whkattk said...

I think we share about 50% on that list, though I'm more of a Criminal Minds, Burn Notice (though this is beginning to wear thin), Suits, NCIS kinda guy. I've fallen for The Following - but after 4 episodes I'm beginning to wonder how it will last longer than one season. Oh, and The Client List - I'm waiting for that to come back - it's a guilty pleasure. When June rolls around, you'll find me glued to The Newsroom because Aaron Sorkin's dialogue is brilliant!
As Vintage Hottie says, I'm really more of a reader - a novel or a magazine (like The New Yorker) is never out of reach, nor is my Kindle.