January 12, 2013

What I've Been Watching

We are going on a month without cable and so far I don’t miss it much. College football bowl week made me feel like I was missing out, but other than that I’ve been fine.

So now that I can’t waste my time with Sportscenter and Honey Boo Boo… what have I been watching…

Both my wife and I sort of wanted to watch Parenthood, but we never bothered to jump in on regular tv. We figured it would be better to start from the beginning. Both Hulu+ and Netflix have the back-catalog, but we opted to go with Netflix because it doesn’t have the the commercials.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for Parenthood so I might have had too high of expectations, but from the first episode didn’t impress me. I’m not a huge Dax Sheppard fan, but he delivers the best acting in the pilot. Not that the rest of them are bad actors, but it is written in such a way that makes it difficult for them not look awkward. If we know a character - what they have been though and how they have responded in the past - it is mostly okay to show a closeup of their face as they emote and expect that to convey what they’re feeling. In the pilot episode of Parenthood they were pulling that stunt constantly and it felt really awkward to me. In the dinner scene they cast a knowing glances at one another after sister made a comment… things like that. It just struck me as a weird and inelegant way to set the stage for the characters.

So far I am not a fan. I’m sure it will get better over time as the actors get a chance to settle into the characters and as I begin to learn more about them. I would expect the writing to get better as well the further along they go in the storylines.

We (or I) opted to not watch another episode of Parenthood. I needed a break. Instead we jumped over to The Wonder Years and watched its pilot. I can remember watching The Wonder Years when I was little, and I undoubtedly saw reruns from time to time. I knew the characterizations of Kevin, Wayne, and the rest of the crew, but I didn’t remember any specifics. Watching the pilot I was blown away. It is amazing. We got through just 2 episodes, but I plan on watching all the seasons. It is better than most of the stuff on tv today for sure. I’m looking forward to being able to experience it for the first time as my 30-something self with a kid of my own.

Maybe it will lose some of the luster as we get further into it, but seems like such a well put-together show - great writing and great acting. I will definitely be choosing The Wonder Years over Parenthood any day.

Over a year ago I heard about a British tv series that sounded like something I’d enjoy. However, I wasn’t able to figure out a way to watch it. I was happy to see the entire back catalog of Misfits is available on Hulu+. Misfits is like the American series Heroes in that it centers around a group of young adults that inexplicably get super powers. That is pretty much where the comparisons end.

When I first watched Heroes I was absolutely enthralled with the first season. I loved it. The subsequent seasons were pretty horrible, but I cannot deny that the first season was great tv - with a really bad climax.

I am only 2.5 episodes into Misfits, but I could tell I was going to like it from the very beginning. It is funnier than Heroes, and better acted from what I can remember. It is also a British show, so it is able to do some things that wouldn’t fly here in the states. Heroes had better cliff hangers, but Misfits hasn’t struggled to hold my attention.

I’m so early in the series that I still have no clue what exactly is going on. There are some goofy things that could turn out to be lame depending on how it gets explained - but I will reserve judgement until I am at least done with the first season.

That is pretty much all I have been watching. We’ve been splitting our time pretty equally between the over-the-air antenna, Hulu+, and Netflix. I’ve also rented a couple blurays from Redbox. Once we get through some of the series we want to watch, I am thinking about buying Game Of Thrones or maybe Justified. But we have plenty to keep us busy for a while.

Oh, and I’ve been reading a lot more since we cancelled cable. I’ve gotten through 1.5 books for fun, and I’m reading Getting Things Done to become a more productive person. I’ve got a bunch of classics on my kindle that I hope to get though as well. I’m kind of liking this whole “no cable” lifestyle.

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