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Richard Clegg

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What to watch on TV [Jan. 8th, 2012|06:43 pm]
Richard Clegg
So, Caron and I (like most couples) sometimes watch TV series. As it's now the future we're pretty much free to choose between any TV series ever made that enjoyed any degree of popularity. We tend to have different series to watch sober (intelligent and interesting) and tipsy (dumb but fun). The thing is that we've "run out" or rather we can't now find one that we both will watch. There's a fairly difficult set of criteria.

1) Nothing with spaceships -- probably no sci-fi whatsoever but let's leave some wiggle room here. Caron's not likely to watch such.
2) Nothing prominently featuring policemen and especially not pathologists -- crime scene may investigate what they like but I'm damned if I'll watch them doing it.
3) Nothing currently running (unless there are a few seasons in the bag) -- don't want to get into it and find it jumps the shark one season in.
4) Nothing which is a cartoon and in particular nothing which is South Park.


What we have watched or tried:
Intelligent series:
A) West Wing -- Both love this. Took a bit for me to get into it but the final three seasons are so compelling and the debate episode may be one of the best pieces of television ever.
B) I Clavdivs -- obviously a total classic. Although it seems a little slow nowadays and some episodes are interrupted with five minutes of me going "Who is that again and how are they related to the other ones?" or "Really, he's her grandfather? Really? Then who is her father? I thought he was the brother?"
C) Numb3rs -- could not imagine a worse series if I tried. Caron was willing to tolerate this but I am not. This series should be burned and the ground sown with salt. It should never have existed. Everyone involved should be shot repeatedly until they stop doing whatever they did to create this. My god, I can't express how genuinely putrid this show is.
D) 30 Rock -- I like but not love this but Caron is not keen. It's not really that clever though.
E) House of Cards -- about to start this.
F) Yes Minister/Prime Minister -- Both love this although it hasn't aged brilliantly and it's a bit simplistic in some ways.

Dumb series:
A) Black Adder -- Both like this but season one is not as funny as I remember it being.
B) Buffy -- Caron likes this, I tolerate this. The mayor character I liked but there were four long seasons after that and one long series with pitiful special effects before that. Fitfully watchable if tipsy or drunk.
C) Angel -- I am not willing to tolerate this. If I never have to see David Boreyanus do his constipated angst face again then my life will be improved. Burn it with fire.
D) Coupling -- Obviously a classic stupid series although season four was probably not necessary.

What we watch because it's on currently but doesn't really count as either intelligent or dumb series:
A) House -- Both love this although selachimorpha leapage for me appeared to set in one season ago. Still worth it for the occasional brilliant performance by Hugh Laurie especially the last two season openers. It's been in self-parody mode for seven seasons now though.
B) Doctor Who -- Both tolerate this although Caron is continually annoyed by Matt Smith's habit of not being David Tennant and by Karen Gillan's habit of being and I am continually annoyed by Rory's death-prone nature.
C) Oh god what's it called with Malcolm Tucker (god my brain) you know, that one -- both love this although one of us appears temporarily unable to remember what it is called and the other one isn't here. Oh god... I'm going to have to google it. Yes, The Thick of It. Course it is.
link

Comments:
[User Picture]From: girfan
2012-01-08 07:03 pm (UTC)
Have you tried: Castle, The Killing (1 and 2), Wallendar (the Swedish version), Fringe, Spaced, Gilmore Girls (very fast talking with loads of cultural references and music-not as sappy as you might think), Black Books, Being Human, Misfits, The Fades and, a new series just started last night, Borgen?
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[User Picture]From: andrewducker
2012-01-08 07:56 pm (UTC)
Castle is great fun, although it violates the "No policemen" rule. However, the main character is (a)charming and (b)a writer, and it doesn't take itself too seriously, which helps an awful lot. It's basically Murder She Wrote with a better plot hook. Endlessly watchable, largely for the awesome banter.
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[User Picture]From: inbetween_girl
2012-01-08 07:11 pm (UTC)
True Blood! Neither intelligent nor entirely dumb... probably about 75% of the way down the scale, though.
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[User Picture]From: andrewducker
2012-01-08 07:54 pm (UTC)
Fun enough to be worth putting up with the dumb, I'd say.
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[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2012-01-08 08:23 pm (UTC)
Of a similar vintage to House of Cards, but dealing instead with local politics in a northern city and a lot of inter-twined personal vendettas, you might like GBH. It's only seven hour-long episodes long, so won't keep you going forever, but meets your criteria and would fit nicely on your 'intelligent' (though somewhat surreal) list.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 12:05 am (UTC)
Oh, that is a brilliant suggestion. It is exactly for reminders of stuff like GBH that made me post this. The great thing is that I can remember almost nothing about this series but the name Michael Murray and that I loved it and thought Robert Lindsay was excellent. Thank you so much.
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[User Picture]From: rosamicula
2012-01-08 09:12 pm (UTC)
For drunk amusement try The Inbetweeners. I also really like Shameless.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 12:20 am (UTC)
Ah... interesting recommendations. Shameless might trigger "too embarrassing" for Caron. You know how some people can't watch Fawlty Towers or Peep Show because they have too much empathy? Is Shameless going to be like that?
Both could be good "while drunk" recommendations though.
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[User Picture]From: makyo
2012-01-08 10:17 pm (UTC)
If you've not seen it before, both series of A Very Peculiar Practice are now available on DVD. I second the recommendation for GBH, too.

If you liked The West Wing, you might also like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which is also by Aaron Sorkin.

I Clavdivs
I've not seen all of the series (and aim to correct this someday) but I've read the books a couple of times and really liked them. That family tree of the Julio-Claudian emperors at the end of the book is a life-saver, and just about helped me keep track of how everyone was related to everyone else that week.
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[User Picture]From: valkyriekaren
2012-01-08 11:26 pm (UTC)
Bah, you beat me to it. Wasn't it criminal that Studio 60 only got one season? Genius writing and genuinely engaging characters.
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[User Picture]From: sarah_mum
2012-01-08 10:20 pm (UTC)
Entourage: It's "Sex and the City" for boys, excellent drunk watching.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 12:06 am (UTC)
Aha... thank you -- I will check this out. In fact Caron and I are both big fans of SATC so this is worth thinking of.
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[User Picture]From: shermarama
2012-01-08 10:32 pm (UTC)
You know how everyone ever goes on about The Wire? There's a reason for it. It's police, or proceeds through police, but I've got no time for police stuff normally either, and was sucked right in from the first episode. I can't explain much better than it being all about the excellent characters and what goes on in their lives, but there are of course plenty of reviews out there that can explain in much greater detail why it's very good if you look for them, and the best thing for me to say as a recommendation is that no, really, they're not being hyperbolic. As for duration, the first and second series are the outstanding ones and there are another three, but dropping a short distance from outstanding is still a very long way from jumping the shark.
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[User Picture]From: ciphergoth
2012-01-08 11:23 pm (UTC)
Charlie Brooker on The Wire: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/jul/21/tvandradio.guide

FWIW I took a few more episodes to get into it, and I couldn't now say which season was my favourite - they are all outstanding.
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[User Picture]From: valkyriekaren
2012-01-08 11:25 pm (UTC)
Did you watch Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? Tragically only ran for 1 season but was by Aaron Sorkin, who wrote The West Wing, and was like 30-Rock but a zillion times better.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 12:07 am (UTC)
Second recommendation for that so it definitely makes the list. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: valkyriekaren
2012-01-08 11:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, and Misfits (available on 4OD). Hilarious black comedy about a gang of ASBO teens suddenly gifted/cursed with super powers.

For more serious super-power/transhumanist stuff, Alphas.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 12:07 am (UTC)
Misfits surely fails the "currently running" test though?
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[User Picture]From: the_meanest_cat
2012-01-09 12:29 am (UTC)
Misfits is one of the best things I've seen on telly EVAH. Start with series 1 and go from there. I've just finished series 3 and still love it.

Also if you fancy skiffy with no spaceships, Fringe is pretty good (you can get it on DVD if you don't have cable). G and I have watched 3 seasons of it so far and I hear it's still going strong on season 4.

I'm not sure if you would like the Inbetweeners, but Caron might. (It appeals to my shamefully juvenile sense of humour)

Season one of the Killing is good. Slow but good. Can't speak for season 2 yet.

If you get a chance to watch Archer from the very first episode, give it a try - it's pretty funny, even though animated. It's a spy spoof, sort of like an irreverent American James Bond.

Lol at Dean Boreanis... (though he does remind me of you a bit!)

Love Buffy. It's a totes guilty pleasure cos it does have a lot of duffer episodes in between the decent ones, but the overall fondness you feel for the characters makes up for it... (mainly Giles, obv)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 12:50 am (UTC)
(though he does remind me of you a bit!)

Bah... Caron is always repeating Spike's line -- he is "bloody stupid and his hair goes straight up". (I think he's David not Dean Boreanaz -- and I bet he was teased in school for that).


I'm not sure if you would like the Inbetweeners, but Caron might. (It appeals to my shamefully juvenile sense of humour)


Ah.. I snigger at knob gags and love Peep Show so I may try this one. Jane also gave it a recommend.

mainly Giles

Heh... Caron is like that too -- but he's such a lame duck from about season four you just feel sorry for him and Xander. They have nothing to do or contribute.

Some of these shows are surely failing the "still running" test?
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[User Picture]From: capt_prickle
2012-01-09 12:38 am (UTC)
We've just finished watching Doc Martin, Kingdom and Jonathan Creek. All of which we enjoyed.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 12:52 am (UTC)
Oh I love Jonathan Creek. I'm afraid I watched them all again quite recently though. When it's done well there's something so perfect about the "here's how it was done" -- it's annoying when you guess it too early though or when the "reveal" is a bit naff -- but it's a great show.

Kingdom has a previous recommendation so I'll look into that but it's it a police show?
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[User Picture]From: willmate
2012-01-09 12:54 am (UTC)
Skins is worth a watch - seasons 1&2 are pretty much self-contained, as are seasons 3&4. We've seen season 5 too, not sure if there'll be a season 6.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 01:11 am (UTC)
That does sound interesting... thanks Will.
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[User Picture]From: thecesspit
2012-01-09 04:55 am (UTC)
I don't see Breaking Bad mentioned. It's on it's final season now (either filming or about to air), and is one of the best shows I've watched in a while. It's pretty grim and dark most of the time, and while it involves a DEA agent, it's not a police procedural.
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[User Picture]From: zenithed
2012-01-09 11:49 am (UTC)
I've just started watching this, and it is indeed fantastic - I've been staying up way too late to get one more episode in. It's surprisingly funny for a show with a pretty dark subject matter, and features a lot of overcoming obstacles by using SCIENCE.
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[User Picture]From: stevek
2012-01-09 06:57 am (UTC)
What about "Carnivàle"? It was a chance purchase, but soon had me hooked.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 01:55 pm (UTC)
Never even heard of that one -- sounds quirky but interesting.
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[User Picture]From: girfan
2012-01-09 07:29 am (UTC)
I agree with stevek about Carnivale. Have you seen Californication? I know it's also still running but just curious if you have seen it. What about Dead Like Me?
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[User Picture]From: surliminal
2012-01-09 01:49 pm (UTC)
Oh I loved Dead Like Me. Tho again possibly only one season? Did it get renewed? It sort of vanished..
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[User Picture]From: commonpeople
2012-01-09 07:53 am (UTC)
You guys should give RuPaul's Drag Race a try.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 01:57 pm (UTC)
Ah... that looks interesting but I'm not really sure about reality TV myself.
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[User Picture]From: surliminal
2012-01-09 01:53 pm (UTC)
Oh christ, of course. Edge of Darkness. Best series evah.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 01:56 pm (UTC)
But it's a police thing isn't it?
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[User Picture]From: ivory_goddess
2012-01-09 05:02 pm (UTC)
Damn, most everything I would recommend is either police/crime or SF! The Killing, Dexter, Justified, BSG, Fringe, The Wire, Sherlock ...


I figured you'd dislike Numb3rs 'cos you know about Maths. For those of us that don't, and also quite like crime shows, it's silly fun (even if it does get a tad unbelievable that the FBI don't have any of their own specialists after, oh, maybe the third episode... Then again, consultancy and outsourcing are the way forward...)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-09 05:17 pm (UTC)
I guess the really unbelievable bit is that his ideas are really pretty simple. If they worked well people would have long since been doing them -- e.g. "track villain to his lair by looking at spread of attacks" or "find next point in data series of bank robberies". These are standard mathematical problems with standard toolkits to solve them. (The first is a problem known as the p-median first solved in the seventies with increasingly better techniques since, the second is a rare event prediction problem for which many techniques exist and none of them work as well as his did.)

Also given most of these problems are data driven the guy is likely to be a coder not a blackboard and chalk guy because the bulk of the work in anything like that is taking the messy real world data and transforming it to something useful.

Oh and the uncertainty principle stuff in episode 2 was wrong to the point of laughable.

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[User Picture]From: foxy76
2012-01-10 10:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad me and Matt are not the only couple who have difficult criteria to meet! We have shockingly little common ground ;-)

A reliable winner is Ace of Cakes - not sure you can get it on dvd, but it's on Foodie channels on freeview all the time. Light-hearted, alternative, creative cake baking. It's fun.

I've also been watching Battlestar, after a reluctant start I have had to concede that it is a drama with a good plot, good acting etc that just happens to be set in space. If Caron could stand it, it would give you a lot of mileage!

I've recently got 30 Rock, but Matt's not keen - if only you were closer!
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-10 10:46 pm (UTC)
*laugh* Maybe we should have a partner swap. Matt and I have loads in common, he has great taste in computer games. I'm sure Caron would love a TV show about cakes as much as you do.

I think we've settled on GBH and The Wire for now as "serious viewing".

It is tricky though. I think I went through all my DVD collection and it was only really Office, Extras, Coupling and Black Books she liked. (Well, and Sex and the City but we've both watched that rather too much I think.)
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[User Picture]From: kissmeforlonger
2012-01-12 07:36 pm (UTC)
Caron doesn't like Firefly? My current fave is Big Bang Theory, which is fluffy but has enough accurate science in it to keep you amused.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-01-15 01:56 am (UTC)
Caron doesn't really like Sci Fi and I don't really like Joss Whatsit.

Big Bang Theory is OK but I don't really like because it suffers from that US sitcom thing that characters are rarely allowed to be actually intelligent -- that is if someone is intelligent in one domain they must be super stupid in others. If intelligent things are discussed it must be made clear to the audience that curiousity about intelligent things is in and of itself amusing.
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[User Picture]From: kauket
2012-02-02 05:48 pm (UTC)
I know you've said 'no sci-fi' but I am still going to recommend Battlestar Galactica as possibly the best thing on TV that isn't Buffy or Twin Peaks (at least for the first few seasons). It is sci-fi in that it is set in an alternate universe and a lot of it is in space, but I absolutely hated sci-fi until I finally watched this. I'm still not excited by watching anything else like Babylon Five / Star Trek but BSG is much more than just sci-fi. It's about survival and relationships in a post-apocalyptic world (which I'll admit is a sci-fi theme, but doesn't feel like it to me), and how people interact and deal with that. It's about politics and class systems and race and constantly having to fight to survive and I think it is worth having a go at. And it really was one of the first bits of sci fi I can say that I actually liked.

And I know you've said no cop shows but... Twin Peaks. Again, it is so much more than being a cop show. If anything it is more of a soap opera-type thing about the people in a small town and the presence of an outsider investigating a murder that's taken place. Someone else might be able to explain this better than me...Much like Carnivale, it's weird but in some ways easier to watch.

The Wire took me a few episodes to get in and even then it was a second viewing of season 1 that made me go 'fucking hell, this is a really spectacular show' but I enjoyed the first viewing once I got into it.

True Blood is great. I really like the first two seasons of Glee but the very concept might put you off. American Horror Story is very very good but breaks you 'not current' rule. I expect it might have a good season in it and then not be worth carrying on with but I'm also anticipating that it'll be easy enough to stop after one season.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-02-02 05:57 pm (UTC)
Heh... I can't believe you managed to recommend a sci-fi show and a police show. I can't watch twin peaks though -- I had a terrible drug related experience with it while a student which gives me the shudders to this day. I'm really not sure about BSG -- lots of people like it and I like sci-fi but everything I've heard about it makes it sound like the kind of sci-fi I would not enjoy.

Quite a few people seem to like "True Blood" (and also "Being Human") so they're definitely on my "consider" list.
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