Awkward pause in the conversation? Here’s the perfect filler: “What TV shows are you watching now?” BAM! You’re almost guaranteed a minimum of fifteen minutes of boisterous banter. And in those rare instances where the answer is: “I don’t watch TV.” You can always ask for the check. Even if you’re not in a restaurant.
The phrase “Golden Age” gets thrown out a lot now and rightly so. Breaking Bad. Homeland. Walking Dead. And yes, Bates Motel. Hell, there’s even a network sitcom that can stand toe to toe with Seinfeld, The Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart shows. Yeah, it’s the one without the laugh track: Modern Family. Ricky Gervais and Larry David took the single-camera torch passed by Garry Shandling’s Larry Sanders Show and added “Cringe Humor” to the vernacular (yes, Jerry Lewis, you were the original), but the’ve made me cringe so much that I’m tuning out. Still, there’s lots of great comedy. Without laugh tracks.
When I was a kid, my favorite shows were The Addams Family, The Wild, Wild West and The Munsters. My sensibility hasn’t changed much over the years. I like funny stuff. Spooky. Creepy. Weird. Exciting.Tense. In my teens and early twenties I stopped watching TV. When I moved to NYC in 1980 I used to go out to clubs all night and then stay up until dawn watching Mary Tyler Moore reruns. Then I discovered J. R. Ewing. Best. TV villain. Ever. Power crazy, ruthless, evil and funny. Now that I think about it, he might be my subconscious inspiration for Paul Kelly in The Book of Paul. At any rate, Larry Hagman can rest in peace, forever enshrined the Entertainment Hall of Fame.
It wasn’t until Lost came out that I started watching TV again. I love continuing dramas. Episodic drama doesn’t do it for me. Lost was so weird and wonderful in the beginning. Fantastic cast, great acting, direction, writing. And then…well, you know. It became so clear in the final season that the show’s creators didn’t know the answers to all the mysteries they had set up. So we got a Hail Mary ending that was…well, you know.
Fortunately, when Lost sputtered out there were a lot of great new shows coming in: Dexter was great in the beginning. I think it is mostly crap now except for Jennifer Carpenter who is absolutely mesmerizing every second she’s on screen. Honestly, if Dexter gets thrown into a wood-chipper for the series finale, I couldn’t care less. True Blood was promising, but is there anyone out there now who doesn’t want to stake Suzie Stackhouse? I never got into The Sopranos or The Wire or Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire. If the first show doesn’t hook me, I’m out.
Breaking Bad grabbed me by the throat and never let go. It was so crazy, funny, exciting, dramatic, outrageous. As the last episodes air in the coming weeks, I feel really confident that the ending will be totally Un-Lost-like. I think Vince Gilligan is a plotting genius. Character genius. Dialog genius. There is no aspect of the writing where he doesn’t excel. However it ends, it will be good. And bad. And I seriously fear for Jesse.
The Walking Dead is fantastic. How fantastic? Even my wife who hates horror and gore is totally hooked on it. Why? Because the characters are great. It’s always about the characters. You gotta love Darryl and you gotta hate The Governor. I thought Bates Motel and Hannibal would be awful, but they both knocked my socks off, because the characters are great and the actors make them greater.
What else am I watching? Game of Thrones. It got really chatty last season but I’m hoping Khaleesi and her dragons will get things going again. Orphan Black is fantastic. A must DVD rental. Under the Dome is good so far. Love that egg. And I’m always on the lookout for new shows.
I’m sure I’m leaving a lot out of good stuff, but I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blanks to that question: “What TV shows are you watching now?”
The Book of Paul movie trailer update: We will air it on Halloween! Muahhaha! Hopefully, it will attract the attention of someone at HBO, SHO, AMC, Netflix or Amazon and people will get to spend an hour with Paul, Martin, Rose, William and The Striker every week. As much as I would love to see the movie version, it’s an epic seven volume series and the first book alone is good for two seasons. And then you’ll get great episode exit lines from Paul like this: