TV Thread: so what are you watching?

Last night I flicked past The Shire while channel-surfing, and I thought “OK, I should give it a least five minutes”. I lasted the five minutes out, just – and just long enough to give me a great deal of sympathy for Michael Idato having to watch it every week, and to agree with Mumbrella’s very cynical take regarding how/why the recipe for the show was cooked up.

Sprog the Younger and I are enjoying shared watching of Once Upon A Time and True Blood, mr tog joins in for Downton Abbey, mr tog and I enjoy various UK police procedurals (especially Silent Witness and repeats of Taggart and Wire In The Blood, although Wallander with Kenneth Branagh was disappointing (we really wanted to like it, too)) and legal dramas (Silk is excellent). Sprog the Elder loves Top Gear, Air Crash Investigation and Mythbusters (we tend to watch the Top Gear as a family, mr tog also enjoys the Air Crash Investigation eps and Sprog the Younger is also a Mythbusters fan). I seem to be alone in the family with my love for the new series of Upstairs Downstairs and The Borgias, and I find old episodes of Law & Order quite comforting as wallpaper while I’m working at home. We also tend to watch a lot of ‘extreme’/’mega’ engineering programs and Industrial Age engineering retrospectives, and we’re suckers for anything narrated by David Attenborough.

We’re hanging out for new series of Boardwalk Empire and Dexter, and just last weekend mr tog expressed his wish to the Moff to hurry up and get some new Cumberbatch/Freeman Sherlock episodes out. I informed him that filming the next series is probably just waiting for Benedict and Martin to finish up with their separate obligations for the upcoming movie of The Hobbit, but it is meant to be happening, and he subsided somewhat. Of course, the new series of Doctor Who will be coming out in the British autumn, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

US sitcoms: The sprogs are still also keen on The Simpsons, Futurama, Scrubs and new episodes of Community. We don’t do The Big Bang in our house, nor Family Guy (with the exception of the Star Wars parody eps) – too many normative usages of marginalising stereotypes and cheap shots. 30 Rock never quite worked for me either, but I’m planning to get acquainted with Parks & Recreation, and I do like Modern Family.

UK comedy shows are a staple; who knows how many times we’ve seen certain episodes of Yes, Minister, AbFab, The Vicar of Dibley, BlackAdder, Father Ted, Red Dwarf, The IT Crowd, Mitchell & Webb, QI etc? Outnumbered is currently a must-see.

Right now we’re a bit short on what we regard as must-see Aussie TV. The Phryne Fisher Mysteries is finished, it will be a while before the next series of Tangle comes out. A new series of Rake began filming in April 2012 (yay!) while Killing Times is getting another run on cable now that the prosecution it was endangering has run its course. Crownies isn’t getting another series, but there’s a spinoff in the works. I’m moderately intrigued by the cast involved in House Husbands, and it’s a premise worth some primetime examination, so will definitely be giving that a go.

So what do you love, or love to hate? What disappointed you when you wanted to love it? What are your guilty pleasures? Your comfort viewing? Tell Auntie Viv everything.

Categories: arts & entertainment, fun & hobbies

Tags: , , , ,

30 replies

  1. I’m watching very little these days. Taggart still, and Wallender. Silk is great. Beg to differ on Silent Witness though. It went right off several seasons ago, when the pathologists left the lab and started acting like policeman. Sitting in on police interviews? Talk about compromising the evidence. The original premise of the series was, as I remember, that the solution to the crime could be found in the victim – the silent witness. Absolutely hate what the program has become. All programs should probably have a limit of 3 series.
    Luckily, my browser has lots of tabs open with stuff I want to watch – from the BBC documentary “Richard Feynman. No Ordinary Genius” to the latest episode of The Quilt Show.

    • I agree Silent Witness isn’t what it was, and you’ve got the reason exactly pegged (moving away from the silent witness concept to be just another crime suspense show) – and in fact last week’s episode was just about incomprehensible, so it might be moving off our list. I still really like the 3 main actors though, which makes it hard to let go.

  2. I really enjoyed The Legend of Korra recently, and I’m currently watching True Blood.
    I also recently discovered a nice web series in the form of The Outs, the first three episodes of which are all available online at their site. It’s not perfect (only one ep so far passes Bechdel), but there’s something comforting about watching directionless queer twenty-somethings (even if they have improbably nice apartments).

  3. I don’t watch much TV but Downton Abbey is a favourite. As is Offspring. I love True Blood but wait until the end of each season and the Husband and I go away for a weekend sans kiddos and watch every episode back to back while indulging in wine and nibbles in front of an open fire. Lush.

  4. I haven’t seen any new TV in a while, but I am rewatching all of the MacGyver episodes now as an adult. It has been… interesting to watch the way different groups of people are portrayed.

  5. What’s with Australians and Taggart? I was giving a public engagement talk this week where the main feedback from the audience was that I had a lovely accent, and classically, that ‘it was just like watching Taggart’. Thanks?
    I think it would be quicker to list the shows that I don’t watch. I don’t watch much British tv, although I did just spend the last few evenings watching the complete run of Jam and Jerusalem. But, usually, I watch things like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Hart of Dixie, the CSIs, Criminal Minds, Rizzolli and Isles (although the number of times she’s be kidnapped by a serial killer is starting to get ridiculous), Castle, the Mentalist, House, and True Blood (which we also save until the end and watch it in one go). I watch law and order when there is nothing else on (which means I don’t watch a lot). I usually watch the first couple of episodes of most new shows on the big networks, but I generally avoid costume drama, like Downton Abbey, The Tudors, the Borgias etc. I get enough history during the day…

    • Feminist Avatar, at least they don’t compare your accent to Trainspotting?
      I like watching TV history shows for the nitpicking joy they give me when I spot a blatant anachronism or conflation. Everybody’s got to have a hobby.

  6. To be fair, at least they were geographically accurate with Taggart, whereas Trainspotting is the wrong coast.
    I think my problem with Historical Drama is less the inaccuracies, which I can live with, than the feeling that ‘I’m working’ as I watch it. I an switch my brain off more with the other stuff, which is my general intention in tv watching.

  7. MrLaurie and I looooooove Mad Men, and watch and re-watch seasons at a time. When organised, we manage to combine our watching with drinking gimlets 🙂
    Quite like Community, the first few seasons of Scrubs, and really like The Big Bang Theory (though it *blows my mind* that its made by the crew that did Two and a Half Men, or as its commonly known in my house “that AWFUL show”).
    Can’t handle Family Guy (the sheer number and diversity of rape/abuse jokes does my head in), but do quite like Futurama, and will always watch The Simpsons if its on.
    And I’ve never, ever, been able to channel flick past Yes, Minister 🙂

  8. I love The Newsroom, especially the dialogue. Perhaps as much as I liked The West Wing.

  9. I get home late at nights, so don’t get to watch a lot. One show I have really enjoyed is Being Human, and I’m quite looking forward to seeing the new Gruen. Now I’m looking for full-time work again I might try get into Avatar and Misfits as I’ve heard they’re good.

  10. We have virtually given up standard TV; instead we tend to buy DVD sets and watch shows in sequence over a couple of weeks. This means Downton Abbey is behind us and I am wondering if we should Amazon Sports Night until Newsroom comes out. We need season 5 of Mad Men, too (any Hoydens interested in a watchy cocktail party?). One day we will get Being Human and start from the beginning, because, as I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, I will show up to watch Aidan Turner just walk across the room. If anyone else works with the same system of ordering in, my major recommendation is Slings and Arrows, a three-season Canadian show riffing on the Ontario Shakespeare Festival, it’s a gem.

  11. I don’t have a TV, so all I tend to watch is what I buy or borrow on DVD. Right now that’s Sanctuary.
    Though I was recently catsitting for friends, so I got to try out an episode or two of a few shows that were on at the time – the was Once Upon a Time (Red Handed, specifically).

  12. Mum and I were watching Wallander, though I gave up once they started airing repeats. I tell ya, Sweden’s as dangerous as Midsomer. Serial killers all over the place. I thought it was good and I like Ken (Sir Ken!) Branagh a lot, but I wanted to tell him to 1) shave, 2) change his shirt, 3) sleep in a bed for once (is he Rebus’s Swedish cousin?) and 4) GET THERAPY. There’s only so many self-destructive policemen I want to watch in the name of entertainment …
    We’re not watching any telly now it’s finished (we don’t have cable and can’t abide commercial television). It’s the DVD set of Pie in the Sky for us at present.

  13. We’ve got season two of Forbrydelsen (the Killing, original Danish version) lined up. It does my heart and mind good to see 40-ish women, not slathered in make-up, running around doing things like Solving Crime! You can see actual wrinkles, confirming that there’s been life experience and time moving through the ranks. I tend to have a real disconnect when I return to US crime shows and how the police women are presented in those.

  14. I like my crappy crime dramas: Castle, Bones. I also like a bit of sci-fi/fantasy especially Fringe and Once Upon a Time.
    We have lots of great local NZ dramas which all seem to come from one awesome production House – South Pacific Pictures – Nothing Trivial, Outrageous Fortune, Almighty Johnsons, Go Girls.
    I love Mad Men but it’s just gone to pay-tv, which I don’t have and refuse to get. As as result I miss out on quite a lot of good grown-up stuff, apparently.

  15. I loved Silk, Maxine Peake is my new favourite actor. She was brill with Sophie Okonedo in Criminal Justice too, equally believable as characters at nigh opposite ends of the spectrum.
    Spaced reruns have finished,*sob*, so I am without legal drama or comedy highlights at the moment. All being well, I’m heading up to see Bill Bailey in Brisbane in a couple of months though, yay! The last live comedy gig I saw was Dave Allen’s very last Australian tour. Looking forward so very much.
    The best documentary I’ve seen so far this year was We Were Here, there was a moment where one of the interviewees talked about “hungry ghosts”, people who just couldn’t rebuild their lives after all of the trauma and loss, and how he narrowly avoided a similar fate – *goosebumps*. It is one of the most moving and thoughtful documentaries that I have ever seen. I can’t do it justice at all, if anyone missed it, I highly recommend tracking it down.

  16. I like Downton Abbey, although I’m very behind on it.The two shows I’m currently watching and really enjoying are Newsroom and Teen Wolf. I’d initially dismissed Teen Wolf as just another trashy teen supernatural show like The Vampire Diaries, then watched a few episodes and was just blown away by the actors and messages (even if the plots are a little cliched).
    I’m hanging out for the next seasons of Supernatural, Legend of Korra, Doctor Who, Sherlock, and My Little Pony, and very much looking forward to the remake of Sailormoon that’s due next year.

    • Merinnan: my favourite story arc by far on Downton Abbey is Daisy the kitchen maid. Her naivete allowing various other characters to impose upon her, and how she gradually matures into more assertiveness and learns who is worthy of trust, has been quite fascinating to watch.
      Sunless Nick: Red Handed is the next episode that will air here in Oz on Sunday night, so I don’t have an answer for you.

      • Spoiler alert, we’ve seen the whole series in NZ: Not sure if it’s representative. The idea of turning the original fairy tale completely on its head runs through the whole show. However, I don’t think any of the other characters in the modern timeline goes through such a development in one episode.

  17. I also like a bit of sci-fi/fantasy especially Fringe and Once Upon a Time.
    Mm, Fringe.
    I like the Vampire Diaries more than I would ever have predicted; Fringe season 4 and Diaries season 3 are main DVD waits at the moment.
    A question for those who have seen more than once episode of Once Upon a Time: how representative is Red Handed of the series as a whole?

  18. Thankyou Tamara. From what you say, I think I’d like the rest of it.

  19. I don’t know if anyone here has watched, or even heard of, The Clinic. It’s an Irish RTE drama/soap, set in a Dublin private clinic, and follows the lives of the staff and many of the patients. And it’s brilliant.
    The series creators are female, as is most of the writing and directing team. It was made between 2002 and 2009, has won plenty of awards, and some well-known Irish actors like Saoirse Ronan and Aidan Turner got their start in it.
    It’s shown on the ABC on Thursdays, in a frustrating and constantly shifting timeslot in the wee hours after midnight, and it’s not available on iview if you miss it. This is a huge pity and a major programming cock-up, because in a reasonable timeslot it would have almost certainly been a major hit for the ABC.

  20. I’ve been super busy lately, so I haven’t been able to keep up with a lot of serialised shows. Things like True Blood, Being Human, White Collar, and Game of Thrones are all on my “catch up” list — but I have no idea when I’ll actually be able to mainline them.
    Instead, when I need to give my brain a rest from work for half an hour to an hour, I’ve been watching a lot of lifestyle/documentary shows on iView that don’t depend upon catching every episode — I’m really enjoying River Cottage, Grand Designs, and Time Team.

    • Going back to shows that I really wanted to like (based mostly on the casting) and ended up unable to keep on watching: The United States Of Tara

  21. @iorarua – do you think if we initiate some kind of campaign the ABC would restart it in a more friendly/reliable slot? I could use the Dublin nostalgia fix.

  22. @orlando
    There have been attempts made on the ABC general forum site to lobby for a better timeslot for The Clinc. I myself have written to the ABC several times, and I know of others. The standard response is that they are ‘monitoring public viewing habits’ – whatever that means.
    It’s a Catch-22. Because so few people know about The Clinic, it can’t draw decent ratings. This also makes it impossible to gather enough outraged people to form a ‘campaign’. I hate to sound so negative, but I’ve tried everything.
    One positive note is that the DVD for the entire seven seasons can be purchased at the RTE website for about 20 euros.

  23. The Newsroom, Girls, True Blood, Game of Thrones, The Big C, Nurse Jackie, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad.

    I adore Downton Abbey.

    My guilty pleasure is Dancing with the Stars.

  24. A few months ago I discovered Hustle. 9.30 on Saturdays on ABC1 if you’re in Victoria. It’s a long running BBC series about five grifters of radically different ages/backgrounds who live in a penthouse in London, hang out at their friend’s bar, and in each episode pull off a hair raising scam against some high profile crim or corporate jerk who just had it coming.
    Absolute 100% escapism with relatable characters and the best soundtrack I’ve come across in a long time (though Wallander was ace.) It’s mainly deep funk a la the Bamboos. I’ve searched the net in vain for a soundtrack CD, there are numerous people crying out for one.
    My only complaint of course was that only one of the main characters is a woman.
    Loved Wallander, despite the misery it dealt with, it was so cinematically gorgeous I could have eaten it. I agree about wanting to force him to take a shower and get therapy. The episode with the mysterious subplot thread about the white horse… ehmargerd.

  25. Re Game of Thrones, I have such mixed feelings about this. Everything about it is brilliant – writing, direction, acting, production values etc.
    But OMFG, the obscenely regressive gender politics had me regularly gagging for breath. In virtually every scene involving a woman or young girl, she is being abused, bashed, humiliated, degraded or raped. I’m just glad I was able to fast-forward when all the OTT misogynising got a bit too much.

%d bloggers like this: