Binge-Watching: What a Wonderful Way to Watch TV

I’m a little late to the binge-watching game but this summer I finally converted. I had so many shows with a plethora of episodes built up on my DVR, along with several shows on Netflix I wanted to watch, that I decided this summer, I would exclusively binge-watch. So far, I’ve almost stuck by my decision, although, because certain shows are must see, I had to watch those on a regular basis. These must-see weekly shows included Orphan Black, Chasing Life, Finding Carter, Teen Wolf and Young & Hungry. The rest I just wait till I have a bunch of episodes built up so I can watch at once. My binge-watching began at the beginning of June and so far, I’ve binge-watched the first three seasons of Call the Midwife (via Netflix), the first and final :( season of Star-Crossed (via my DVR), the first 3 seasons of Downton Abbey (via Netflix), the second season of Orange Is the New Black (via Netflix) and I’m now watching Salem (via DVR). A few other shows I sampled and dropped. Shows next on my binge-watching schedule are Longmire (on both Netflix and my DVR), North & South (Netflix), Continuum (DVR), The Bletchley Circle (Netflix), Friday Night Lights (Netflix), Defiance (DVR), The Fall (Netflix), Misfits (DVR), Game of Thrones (DVR), Hell on Wheels (Netflix), Arrow (DVR), The Inbetweeners (Netflix), Degrassi (DVR) and Boys Over Flowers (DVR). 

Binge-watching on Netflix is awesome. It allows you to watch whole seasons of a show commercial-free at once. There’s many shows, such as Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and The Walking Dead, that I completely missed the boat on. If it hadn’t been for Netflix I would likely have never watched these shows but now I have and I’m happy I did. One of my qualms with Netflix is that sometimes, as what has happened with many of the CW/WB/UPN series, shows disappear altogether. I was just in the middle of watching Arrow’s first season when it suddenly vanished. Another qualm is that sometimes Netflix will only show the first 3 seasons of a show, and because I’m waiting for it on Netflix, I fail to watch the show when it comes on regular tv. so I miss out. 

Building up episodes on a DVR is also a good way to binge-watch. I find that now, when it comes to new shows with on-the-bubble ratings, I wait until such shows air a full 13 episodes to watch beyond the first episodes. It saves me from heartache when a show is abruptly pulled from the air by a network wanting better ratings. Such was the case with both Believe and Star-Crossed. I saw the writing on the wall for Believe and decided to erase it from my DVR. I almost did the same with Star-Crossed but even though I knew the show was cancelled, I watched all 13 episodes anyways, due primarily to the great reviews of the show on The TV Addict

I’m still debating on whether or not to stick to only binge-watching shows in the fall. I love discussing shows online though so maybe my top 5 shows I’ll watch live with the rest saved for binge-watching. I’ll also watch all the pilots when they air, just to see whether they’re worth taking space up on my DVR. This season may just be my last when it comes to watching shows on regular tv. With more shows than ever on Netflix, all commercial-free, I think maybe my days of weekly tv watching will soon be over. It’s binge-watching all the way, and cord-cutting is a trend I may just take up.

 

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The Spring Finales Report Card – The Awesome, the Awful and the In-between

Memorial Day in the States is usually the marker which separates the spring and summer seasons and the majority of fall and winter shows have aired their finales. Therefore, its time for me to share my thoughts on the various finales I have had the opportunity to see.

Parenthood Grade A (true to form, this could function as a show finale, loved the Amber reveal)

Nashville Grade A+ (as per usual, there were some great emotional scenes and plenty of excitement)

Sleepy Hollow A (great cliffhanger to cap off a great first season)

Reign Grade B (loved to see history fictionally play out)

The Originals A+ (amazing scenes for both Klaus and Hayley, I can’t wait to see what happens in the new season)

Revolution D- (what a horrible ending to a chronically awesome, chronically awful, series–I HATE HATE HATE the nano storyline and now I’m glad the show is ending as I would hate to see how this particular storyline would play out)

Revenge A (I knew ____ wasn’t dead although I’m not sure I like what direction they will seemingly go in)

Grey’s Anatomy B+ (Interesting ending. Hopefully this new sister of Meredith’s won’t get killed in a plane crash.)

Vampire Diaries C (This show is a shadow of its old self. I’m not sure it can come back to its earlier form when I still liked it. Can’t believe I’m still watching this ____.)

Vikings A (I knew it! What’s-his-face was pretending all along.)

Hart of Dixie B (So are they together? I hope next season they will be cause I would love to see them as a couple for a longer period of time.)

Remedy B+ (Characters ended in a good place. I think this show could get better with time.)

Bitten A- (The show had a slow start and I was on the fence about continuing with it but the finale left me wanting more.)

Teen Wolf A (Aw. Why’d they have to kill her?!)

Arctic Air A (Good show, it really came into its own this season. Wish we could have gotten more.)

The Goldbergs A (Liked it a lot. Best new comedy of the season.)

Heartland C (Tame finale. The various characters don’t show much growth.)

Big Bang Theory B (So-so. The engagement was kind of anticlimactic.)

Republic of Doyle B (Good. I would like to see a season of Jake and Leslie together and married.)

Blackstone B (There are certain storylines I like more than others. I hate the strip joint storylines. Wish the show would stick to the two sisters.)

Saving Hope B (Passable. This show remains a bubble show for me. Neither great nor bad. Just okay.)

 

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Tuesday’s Top 10 List – Worst-Looking New Shows for the 2014-2015 TV Season

Last week I shared my list of the top 10 best-looking new shows of the 2014-2015 tv season, and this week I will share my list of the worst-looking shows. So without further delay, here they are:

#1 Mulaney (FOX)

This show just reminds me too much of Seinfeld. And that’s not a good thing. I hated Seinfeld and it was one of those shows my parents, grandparents and all my friends’ parents and grandparents watched. It featured annoying over-the-top characters with corny humour and nonsensical plotlines. It may have been popular in the 90s but that schtick probably won’t fly in this day and age. I hope.

#2 NCIS New Orleans (CBS)

How is this show any different than the other NCIS shows? I have never watched an entire NCIS episode from start to finish and I don’t intend to any time soon.

#3 CSI: Cyber (CBS)

Truthfully, I never even watched the spinoff episode and if there is a trailer, I haven’t watched that one either. I just despise CSI so much that this show needs to be put high up on my worst list.

#4 Manhattan Love Story (ABC)

The two leads have chemistry but hearing their thoughts out loud gets annoying FAST. Sadly, this show would have worked well as a normal romantic comedy with regular dialogue.

#5 Bad Judge (NBC)

I like Kate Walsh but this show really looks awful. The character Kate plays doesn’t look like she could graduate high school, much less become a lawyer and then be appointed a judge. Pass.

#6 Hieroglyph (FOX)

I was so disappointed by this show’s trailer. The show description and logline had me intrigued but wow, that trailer was a stinker. 

#7 Mysteries of Laura (NBC)

I get what this show is going for and it may or may not work. Debra Messing deserves better. Revolution was cancelled for this?

#8 Galavant (ABC)

I love musicals but HATED this. None of the leads were charismatic enough to get me interested and I could barely get through the trailer.

#9 The McCarthys (CBS)

Really, CBS? Really? You pick up one new comedy for the fall and this is it? Too many cliches and quirky, annoying characters for my liking.

#10 Utopia (FOX)

This is yet one more unneeded reality show for people to waste their time watching although it is a step up from the likes of Survivor or that Marry Harry show, which is why it wasn’t put higher on this list.

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Contentments of the 2013-2014 TV Season

This past season was probably one of the best of the past decade. In terms of cancellations, only 4 of my network shows were cancelled and that’s out of at least 30 shows that I regularly watched during the regular TV viewing season from September to May. That’s a fairly good ratio, especially if you consider the fact that so many of my favourite shows were on the bubble including The 100, Parenthood, Nashville, Reign, Hart of Dixie and Remedy.

The 10 best shows on TV, in my most humblest of opinions, were Orphan Black, Vikings, Revolution, The 100, Parenthood, Nashville, Reign, The Originals, Sleepy Hollow and Teen Wolf. There were so many great TV moments for these shows and a number of great actors and actresses who took part in them.

Nine new shows became keepers for me. That list includes The 100, Surviving Jack, Reign, The Originals, Sleepy Hollow, The Goldbergs, Remedy, Bitten and Trophy Wife. Of those, seven were renewed for a second season, which is the same as last year when Revolution, Nashville, Vikings, Saving Hope, Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black and Continuum were all renewed.

When it comes to veteran shows, the Most Improved Award would have to go to Grey’s Anatomy, which just finished its tenth season. Ever since the plane crash in Season 8’s finale, which caused the deaths of two immensely popular characters, Lexie Grey and Mark Sloan, the show had lost a lot of its appeal for me. This time last year I was enormously pessimistic about the show and considered taking it off my watch list. However, this past year, while the show has not returned to the level of excitement which existed in its early seasons,it still has enough for me to remain a loyal watcher. Kudos to Shonda Rhimes for not killing off Cristina Yang, because if she had (I wouldn’t put it past her) I would have definitely stopped watching.

Overall, it’s been a great season.

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Disappointments of the 2013-2014 TV Season

There were some major and minor disappointments for me this past season. One thing that disappointed me last year was that a few of the shows I was most excited about were held until the spring. At last year’s upfronts 3 of the new shows I most wanted to watch were The 100, Believe and Surviving Jack, which were all held until spring. Of these, both Surviving Jack and Believe were cancelled and The 100 narrowly got renewed. Midseason shows very rarely get renewed as people are not looking for new shows to watch at this time and people tend to watch less tv as the weather is getting warmer out. Shows that get a fall launch tend to do better. Surviving Jack didn’t premiere until April and FOX never really gave it a fair chance. Even though it had twice the overall viewers and about the same number of viewers in the 18-49 demo as low-rated New Girl and Mindy Project, two shows lucky to get renewals, Surviving Jack was still cancelled. It’s a mighty shame as the show was laugh-outloud funny and Christopher Meloni, formerly of Law & Order: SVU, who played the title character on this show, turned out to be an extraordinary comedic actor. If FOX had nurtured the show a bit and given it a fall relaunch, I’m sure it could have improved substantially in the ratings and built on to its audience over time.

By far the biggest disappointment of the season was the recent cancellation of Revolution. It was my favourite network show. Ratings were not great and I blame that on both its 8pm timeslot (too early) and its uneven writing. Parts of the show were written so well while other plot points derailed it. What worked for the show was its complex characters, including Charlie, Monroe, Miles, Neville and Rachel, with new characters Connor and Gene, and the complicated relationships between them all. The dystopic setting was great and full of potential and the Patriot storyline was good. Where the show suffered was the Aaron storyline with the annoying nanites.  As soon as Aaron started seeing apparitions and the nanites started to play god, a lot of viewers tuned out. Both live and DVR numbers dropped significantly. It’s a real shame because the other storylines were great. Unfortunately, we will never get to see how the story plays out as the show ends on a cliffhanger and no ends are really tied up. Revolution is now on the long list of shows I really liked that got cancelled far too quickly.

Another disappointment for me was the cancellation of Arctic Air. This was another show that suffered from uneven writing. I really wish the writers had focussed more on the various characters than the action sequences. I loved the setting for the show and the central characters worked well but I felt that maybe the writers were trying to make the show appeal to too many types of people. Yes, it did have the disadvantage of being a Canadian series, so general viewership was important, but I think the show would have worked much better serialized instead of the bad-situation-of-the-week type of scenario with episodes able to function as stand-alone ones. Anyways, Arctic Air was an okay show that could have been good had it gone in a different direction with the writing.

Overall, the past tv season wasn’t too disappointing. It could have been much much worse. Only one of my top 15 shows–Revolution–was cancelled. Stay tuned for next week when I share what my greatest contentments of the past tv season were.

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Tuesday’s Top 10 List – Best-Looking New Shows for the 2014-2015 TV Season

Every Tuesday I plan on issuing a top 10 list of something tv-related and this week I’d like to give you a list of the 10 shows I most like the look of for next season. The American network upfronts just occurred and most of these shows have trailers floating around the internet. Some are difficult for Canadians to access because they are geoblocked (unable to be downloaded by internet users outside of the U.S.). As Canadian upfronts aren’t until June, we still do not know on which network each of these shows will air but I will post the results of the auction (it is pretty much an auction) when the results come in. So without further adieu, I bid you the list for best-looking new shows for next TV season, based on my humble opinion:

#1 Secrets & Lies (ABC)

While it’s not completely clear what this show will become, it had the trailer which most excites me. With an awesome cast consisting of Ryan Phillippe, Juliette Lewis and KaDee Strickland, this drama is based on the Australian series of the same name but apparently the writers have gone in a slightly different direction with this version. While the show will get its start as a murder mystery thriller, I’ve heard that its been envisioned as a more action-packed soap, with plenty of more characters coming out of the woodwork as the show progresses. Sadly, we will have to wait until February or March of 2015 for the debut of this series, which will consist of 10 episodes in its first and hopefully not final season.  THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE:  Revenge, Homeland, Life

#2 Constantine (NBC)

When I first read the premise for this DC-comicbook-based drama, I wasn’t interested. However, after seeing the very good trailer, I quickly put this show on my must-see list. Matt Ryan plays the title character with a gusto that is instantly likable and believable and the plotlines involved appear both interesting and exciting to watch.THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE:  Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

#3 American Crime (ABC)

At first glance, this show appears to be another tedious murder mystery, but its not. Its actually a layered chilling look at the world of American crime, from the perspectives of both the victims and criminals. Its a serialized drama with a talented and diverse cast and promises suspense and emotional resonance. This show looks like it should be on cable instead of network tv so we shall see if it succeeds to pull in enough viewers for network standards. THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE:  The Americans, Southland, Breaking Bad

#4 State of Affairs (NBC)

Katherine Heigl reminds us in the trailer just why we liked Isabelle Stevens, her character on Grey’s Anatomy, so much. She shines as the lead in this spy conspiracy thriller. THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE:  Homeland, Alias, The Blacklist

#5 Allegiance (NBC)

Though the trailer for this show still hasn’t been shown, the premise sounds promising. Its a serialized spy thriller and it sounds a lot like The Americans. For people who’ve already seen that series, it might be too similar, but I, as a Bell satellite subscriber, have not gotten the chance to see that series so I won’t have that problem.  THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE:  Homeland, Scandal, The Blacklist

#6 Gracepoint (FOX)

This is an American remake of the British drama, Broadchurch, starring the same main actor except with an American accent. I haven’t seen Broadchurch yet, so to me the trailer for this show came off very well. THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE:  Revenge, Murdoch Mysteries, True Detective

#7 Gotham (FOX)

This is an origins story of the various Batman villains and heroes. While I wondered if a show like this could work, the trailer came off well. I’m not much of a Batman fan but even I’m interested in watching this. THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE:  Batman, Arrow, Heroes

#8 Whispers (ABC)

This show definitely looks creepy and it has the potential to be very good. It’s an alien thriller that’ll probably keep me wanting to sleep with the lights on. THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE: V, American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful

#9 Jane the Virgin (CW)

The title isn’t the best and the online chatter about this show isn’t great, but there’s something about it that really interests me. I have a soft spot for romantic comedies and this show fits that bill splendidly. The pilot episode apparently turned out very well. FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE:  Hart of Dixie, Ugly Betty, Mindy Project

#10 Emerald City (NBC)

This drama got a series order very quickly and rumour has it the scripts were very good. It is supposedly a much darker, adult version of the Wizard of Oz series, based on the original novels before they were Disneyfied. Set in the world of Oz, the possibilities for characters and plots are endless and intriguing. No trailer is available yet for this but expectations for this show are high. THIS SHOW IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE: Game of Thrones, Atlantis, Once upon a Time

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Battle Creek (CBS), Red Band Society (FOX), Empire (FOX), The Odyssey (NBC), Wayward Pines (FOX), The Messengers (CW), A to Z (NBC), Hieroglyph (FOX), Astronaut’s Wives Club (ABC), Agent Carter (ABC)

 

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The Library Known as Television

I’ve always loved to read stories, listen to stories and write them. Growing up, I was a major bookworm, devouring stories like food. Libraries and bookstores were favourite places of mine. As I got older, I discovered that television contained a plethora of stories too. Television is a library in itself, with channels instead of shelves and shows instead of books. Seeing characters onscreen and their stories playing out is even better than reading about them in a book. As I became a fan of television, I began to wonder about behind-the-scenes happenings in the television world. Many of my shows would get cancelled or characters would depart suddenly or new shows would appear and I always wanted to know more. Television became a hobby for me, in more than just watching it. I loved hearing about ratings and spoilers and pilot season and showbiz news. I would spend a lot of time online chatting about shows I watched with other fans or reading television blogs or writing episode reviews for various sites. About 7 years ago, I had a television blog of my own but after 10 months with only 32 subscribers, I decided to give it a rest. However, the writer in me always wants to write and even if I only get a handful of people reading it, I’ll be content. So here goes nothing–a second blog. This blog will consist of many of my opinions on scripted television shows (reality shows are excluded) and it will be told from a Canadian perspective. I am proud of my country’s rich history of television storytelling and I also like my fair share of American fare, with a smidgen of British, Australian  and other international scripted television shows thrown in. So please stay tuned.

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