TV I Like

The fall premieres are well underway, and as we proceed through week two of Brand-New Episodes of all our old favorites as well as a few new offerings that have made their way into our DVR ... let's review.

Family Guy (raunchy and off-color (is that redundant?) animated comedy) -- Why watch it? It's funny. Funny! Repeatedly laugh-out-loud-long-enough-to-require-pausing-the-show-to-catch-one's-breath funny. Not for children, or my parents. Or for a lot of people. But funny. Enough inside jokes to keep a viewer feeling like one of the special few (million), but not enough to alienate anyone who's missed hunks of prior seasons. Final words: Adam West as himself.

The Simpsons (seriously?) -- Why watch it? 20 seasons of animated prime-time comedy. And while not every episode is gold, most of them are at least silver or iron pyrite, anyway. The celebrity appearances are some of my favorite parts. There's good reason why this show has won 25 Emmys and is the first animated show to win a Peabody.

Mad Men (so-period-it's-painful drama about 1960s Madison Avenue ad men (and the "girls" in their lives)) -- Why watch it? It's brilliant. Brillant acting, brilliant writing, brilliant staging/costumes/cinematography. Gorgeous. Uncomfortable at first (just about the only African-Americans on the show are the elevator operator and the cleaning lady, and the "girls" are treated like stupid children by the men, a good deal of the time), this show makes me think about how much life has changed since then. It's also deeply engaging emotionally and intellectually. I actually care what happens to these people. There are very good reasons this show keeps winning a jillion awards. It's altogether excellent.

Castle (police procedural wherein a bestselling mystery writer is following around a smart-and-sexy homicide detective upon whom he's basing his next novel.) -- Why watch it? Nathan Fillion. I could leave it at just those two words. But, honestly, the show is cute, clever, fun. Nathan and co-star Stana Katic have great chemistry and the quirky circumstances surrounding the murders in this procedural are less CSI-esque contrived than I'd feared. Very glad this mid-season replacement has been picked up. (And ... hee ... outtakes!)

How I Met Your Mother (ensemble comedy about mostly-single thirty-something professionals in NYC) -- Why watch it? Neil Patrick Harris. (and well, Jason Segel) This comedy has had its ups and downs and some shows fall rather flat, but when they've got it down, it's funny. And doesn't love some Barney Stinson?

The Big Bang Theory (ensemble compedy about very single twenty-something professional uber-nerds in Pasadena) -- Why watch it? Well, this nerd-girl loves the Spock, Flash and gaming references. I think Johnny Galecki is an adorably dorky straight man. And well, anything character Sheldon says is pretty much deadpan hysterical. This show is good for multiple LOLs per ep, and also the sort of little jokes and catch phrases that pop up in conversation around the house. Even my kids have started singing "Soft Kitty" and they've never seen the show.

Heroes (OK, everybody knows what Heroes is about) -- Why watch it? Well, frankly, I'm just rather hoping it becomes even half as interesting and cool as it was the first season. I'm still waiting. Oh, and Zachary Quinto is yummy.

NCIS (procedural spin-off of Jag set in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service HQ in DC) -- Why watch it? Although I never really watched Jag, I immediately latched onto NCIS. The cast has great chemistry and timing; the Navy connection is a sweet spot for me with my quasi-Navy-brat upbringing); Mark Harmon; and just the right mix of long plot arcs, satisfying solved-in-one-episode crimes, serious cases, silly cases ... this show's watchable, if not uber-cool.

NCIS:LA (spin-off of the spin-off) -- Why watch it? The crossover let's-introduce-our-potential-spinoff ep last season was decent. Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J work well together. And I'm always willing to give a spin-off a chance. We'll see if it sticks on the DVR schedule past season one.

The Good Wife (lawyer show surrounding the mortified and newly-back-in-the-workforce wife of a sex-scandaled and imprisoned politician) -- Why watch it? Juliana Margulies and Chris Noth. Pre-air reviews were good enough to give this new show a try. The pilot was good, and I'm hoping this cast grows into its own as the season continues.

Criminal Minds (FBI serial-killer profilers procedural) -- Why watch it? For chills and thrills and shivers up your spine. I don't do horror. Ever. But, this show can occasionally come close. The cast is terrific and the killers sufficiently creepy/weird/terrifying to keep me huddled under and afghan even in the summer months, watching this. Always save enough time to watch a sit-com between this and bedtime, if you want to sleep. Each episode offers a life-lesson I use to keep myself safe from serial killers: don't leave windows unlocked, don't ride the subway, don't stop for a flat tire in the country, don't breathe air ... you know, useful stuff.

Glee (high school musical, except, you know ... funny and sarcastic) -- Why watch it? If you're a big dork like I am and enjoy quirky, you'll likely enjoy Glee. Throw in a healthy love of musicals, showtunes, high-school-underdog-makes-good/wins-the-cute-boy/girl and you're in love. The singing is quality, too. Again, hoping this lasts through and past its first season. (there are better audio quality videos out there, like this one, but this one has vid, too)

The Office (office-based sitcom, but you know ... with talent and humor) -- Why watch it? It's funny. And smart. With pretty (but also not so pretty) people. Everyone who's ever worked in an office has known some version of most of these characters. The humor is quick, sometimes uncomfortable, but really very mostly on.

Haven't watched our recording of FlashForward yet, but we're hoping for good things. Otherwise, Thursday is not so much a must-see night of broadcasting for us. I gave up on Survivor a couple of seasons ago, and while Community has surface appeal (Joe does teach at a community college, after all), we're going to see if it lasts past its first season before investing any time in it.

Ugly Betty (comedy/soap opera about a really kinds pretty "ugly" girl with a big heart in the cut-throat world of a fashion magazine) -- Why watch it? Well, this is my guilty-please show. It's not earth-shattering; the soap opera plot twists are bizarre. But the so-bad-they're-awesome bad guys (read: Vanessa Williams and Michael Urie) are awfully fun to watch. It's been moved to the Friday-night-timeslot-of-death, so I don't expect another season after this one. It's been sliding since season two, anyway.

Numb3rs (FBI procedural wherein a prominent mathematician and his colleagues help solve crimes, using ... dun-dun-dunnnn ... numbers) -- Why watch it? If you're married to a mathematician, like I am, watch this show to find neat and simple ways to under stand mid-level math concepts through the use of nifty metaphors and animated sequences. (And I love me some Rob Morrow, big-time)

Dollhouse (Whedon (!!!) sci-fi drama wherein personalities are imprinted on relatively clean-slated brains so that "dolls" may be rented out to wealthy clients for specific purposes) -- Why watch it? To keep it on the air! To drive up Whedon's numbers so it lasts as long as possible! Seriously, it's good. Well acted with enough drama and/or action in most episodes. Offbeat with a lot of potential for future stories and seasons to stay fresh and clever. And this season? Jamie Bamber and Summer Glau! (if you missed season one, there's a pretty decent recap available)



Quickie Link Post

I have been finding articles on The Art of Manliness blog to be endlessly fascinating. Of particular note tonight, 100 Must-See Movies and 100 Must-Read Books (conveniently Amazon Listmania-ed).

And through this blog, I linked out to this Field & Stream article on how to make an Altoids-tin survival kit. Too cool.



Time on My Hands

Well, the kids went back to school, and Joe went back to school ... and I've been home. I've had a lot of time on my hands. A lot. Of time. A lot.

Things I've Accomplished:
  • I'm off-book for Mousetrap, slightly ahead of schedule.
  • I've completed about 25 hours of knitting.
  • The laundry is done. (so are the dishes, the vacuuming, and other myriad household chores)
  • Menus planned, groceries bought.
  • Baked two pumpkin pies.
  • Completely caught up on the many, many (embarrassingly large number of) hours of last spring's DVR-ed television programming.
  • Edited and rendered a video montage of the Disney trip video clips.
  • Created multiple versions of my resume and written a myriad of cover letters.

Things I've Not Accomplished:
  • Photoshopped all 500+ Disney vacation pics.
  • Created slideshow of said pics.
  • Found a job. (this really seems to more than trump the entire list, above)

Next Up:
  • More knitting.
  • More TV.
  • Creating a mock 1948 London Times prop.
  • Baking cookies.



Still Job Hunting

The school year has begun and I don't have a classroom of students staring up at me. I didn't put on a skirt and sensible heels this morning, pack a Lean Cuisine and a fork in a brand-new insulated lunch sack. I did not spend the last week putting up "Welcome to Mrs. Dugan's Room" bulletin boards, labeling desks, and sharpening pencils. I did not take a deep breath in anticipation of a bright new school year.

Well, that last one I sorta did ... Emily and Matthew started back today. But that has nothing to do with my "Still Job Hunting" title.

I have some plans (which include substituting around the area for the meantime), but I'm really still hoping to find a school that wants me up in front of a classroom of kids.



I Love Cooking

I would love to take a cooking class or something. I enjoy cooking a lot. I don't enjoy hunting for ingredients I swear I have but can't find (molasses and brown sugar fall into this category quite often), and I don't love cleaning up after the cooking (but then, who does?).

Today I made quesadillas for dinner while preparing a lasagna for this weekend, and baking chocolate chip cookies (these ones, they're amazing!) for Mousetrap rehearsal tonight (and lots more for this weekend). My house smells wonderful. But I think that every baking, measuring, scooping, stirring, frying item in my kitchen is now stacked precariously in my sink. I took the last batch of cookies out of the oven and whisked right out the door to rehearsal, straightening up, but not really cleaning everything.

Ah, well, tomorrow is another day ...



Shift in the Weather

The weather has shifted ... somewhere in the last 48 hours. Fall is in the air. Maybe it happened when Hurricane Danny went through off the coast. Maybe God just wants to make it easier on kids returning to school ... so they don't feel as though they're missing out on a hunk of summer.

In any case, we turned off the a/c and opened up all the windows yesterday. We probably could have done it the day before that. This morning it's a brisk 58°, and our summer-seasoned bodies feel chilled.

I'm in jeans and a light sweater. And socks! I haven't worn socks since maybe May. I'll have to change later, of course. It's supposed to hit 77°. This time of year we go through a lot of clothes. The morning and evening long-sleeves and light sweater, in addition to capris and short sleeves mid-afternoon.

Fall is my favorite time of year. I'm irritated at myself for anticipating not fully enjoying it this year. My brain and heart are distracted by my unemployment* and worry for the future. Yeah, I'm irritated at myself proactively for not enjoying something that hasn't happened yet. I don't make much sense.

Anyway ... soon the leaves will change, the weather will cool even further. I love fall foods, fall clothes, fall holidays. I'm going to do my best to make the most of it.


* The school district with which I had a very promising interview and a few "inside" contacts started up today. I still haven't officially received word that I haven't been selected, but it seems likely they'd have someone in the spot for the teacher start-of-school day today.