Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Growing up, I never had a television in my room. In fact I never had my own room, until my older brother got married and moved out of the house. When I first started renting my own space, I didn’t feel the need to buy a television for my room. That is, until last December, when I bought from Gibbs the LED TV set (with free DVD player thrown in to boot!) that he had won in their company Christmas party raffle.

Thanks to cable and an occasional DVD, I now end up sleeping past 1am every day. Thank god my office is just 20 minutes away, traffic and all.

Here are the following shows that keep me awake at night.

The Big C
Laura Linney is terrific in her award-winning portrayal of a mother with stage-4 cancer. What attracts me to this series is that her character isn’t always sympathetic. Upon discovery of her disease, she hides the fact from her loved ones. This leads to certain actions and behavior of hers that puzzle all those around her. Sometimes Linney and the series writers actually go out of their way to make her character infuriatingly conflicted at times. The other characters are also as flawed as they come. This unflinching and often humorous look at how people act in the face of imminent death lifts the show from the usual disease-of-the-week specials.

The Good Wife
Here’s another drama starring another multi-award winner, Julianna Margulies. But her co-stars are equally riveting, including Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Chris Noth, and Alan Cumming. The wife of a disgraced politician now finds herself living a new life as a lawyer, away from the shadow of her husband. While her personal dramas are also interesting, I also love the drama that comes from their line of work. Scenes sizzle in the hands of top-notch actors and actresses. It is the good cast that makes The Good Wife so watchable.

I started watching the series on DVD as part of my work (our channels are now airing the series). I was only going to watch the first two or three episodes just so I get the feel of the series, but I got hooked on it. The series puts a dark modern twist on the Grimm brothers’ tales. It’s about a police investigator who discovers that he comes from a long line of Grimms, individuals blessed with the ability to see monsters hiding amongst men, and tasked with hunting them down. The series takes itself just a little too seriously, and although they have a yoga-practicing vegetarian werewolf as a sidekick and comic relief, it still is not enough. If they can become more tongue-in-cheek and less grim and determined in tone, I think the series can be fiendishly fun.

I wasn’t really a big fan of this series until D started watching it. Pretty soon I got hooked. House is the medical equivalent of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Morriarty rolled into one. More than the mysterious illness of the week, it was the drama between the regular characters that got me interested. So even if House’s tirades against his staff and his last-minute saves grow weary after a while, I continued to watch it. I especially liked the suicide of a major character, and how House realized there are some things in his world that defy diagnosis.

Law & Order
There are already several spin-offs to what I think is the longest running procedural and legal drama franchise on air. But I still have a soft spot for the original series, especially with District Attorney Jack McCoy (played by Sam Waterston). What also distinguishes it from the other series in the franchise is its primary focus on the case, not on the characters. Viewers only get a glimpse or hint of the personal lives of the cops and the attorneys who are involved in the case. Unlike House, L&O’s predictable police-to-court structure actually gives the series a stickiness that I appreciate. Maybe because it’s two genres rolled into an hour. Before you get tired of one genre, they shift to the other genre. I especially liked one season ender where they turned the formula on its head. No crime, no case; the whole hour was a character study on each of the leads. And in the end, one of them gets killed in a car accident.

Raising Hope
This half-hour sitcom is about a guy who raises his child alone after the mother (who was a convicted serial killer) abandons them and dies. Helping him are his former hippie parents and his senile grandmother during her occasional bouts of lucidity. The sitcom actually grew on me. It helps that the dad, played by Garret Dillahunt, is a yummy hunky daddy who likes taking his t-shirt off (his character is a pool cleaner). Gratuitous? I sure hope so!

This Spielberg produced series is personally intriguing for me because it deals with the backstage drama (and comedy) of the theater, specifically mounting a musical about Marilyn Monroe on Broadway. The draw of the first season is simple: who will get to play Marilyn? (Actually I feel neither of the two actresses deserve the role, hahaha!) The other subplots range from ho-hum to ooh-wow, and I like how certain characters aren’t what they appear to be. Another minor beef of mine against the series is its uneven musical numbers. They are great when they happen within the context of the making of the musical. But sometimes they come out of nowhere, and Smash turns into Glee: The After-College Years. 

The premise actually sounds hokey and logic holes big enough to stuff a whole season in them. Hotshot lawyer in a high-profile firm hires a hotshot non-lawyer to be his assistant because the latter has a photographic memory and a desire to become a lawyer. This fact he hides from his partners, his senior managing partner, and his clients. But the series plays out fast and loose; the snappy pace and smart dialogue makes it enjoyable to watch. As a legal drama, do not look for intricate cases that delve deeply into the law. The plot’s not the thing; the characters are. And with two good-looking male leads and a brewing bromance between their characters, who am I to argue? I rest my case.

A series that plays around with the ultimate bromance—the two lead male characters are literally brothers! Much fan-made literature has been made wherein there’s a romantic (and sexual) component to the brothers’ relationship with one another. Horrors, you say? It may sound icky, but the producers are well aware of the show’s appeal and at times give a winking nod to it. Meanwhile I enjoy the great eye candy dished out every week. The demons they dispatch every week aren’t as compelling to me as the question, “I wonder how far the producers will push the envelope with their bromance?”


American Horror Story – Admitted, I saw the season ender first before getting interested. It’s like reading a book after peeking at the ending first. I watch it out of curiosity.

Glee – I only watch when I catch it on TV; otherwise, I’m not compelled to seek it out. The series’ appeal has diminished for me. Again, the only reason why I watch it is out of curiosity.


Sheen said...

House is indeed addictive. :)) Queer as Folk is also a show to die for.

citybuoy said...

Ang awkward nga when Smash breaks into song no? Like when Megan sang Jessie J's Who You Are. That was just painful. lolz

Xander said...

Watch Mad Men! Pahiram ko sa yo season 1 DVD.

And as always, I would like to take this opportunity to pimp Slings & Arrows, which, in my biased opinion, is better than Smash hehehe.

Xander said...

Also, may I suggest you put spoiler alert sa entry on House. or leave the the character unnamed like the Law & Order entry.


fried-neurons said...

Precisely the reason why I chose not to put a TV in my bedroom. I'm already sleep-deprived enough, what with a smart phone, a Kindle, and an iPad next to my bed. Kung dagdagan pa ng TV, patay!