Timeless Thoughts: An hour of television that doesn’t involve someone being horribly murdered

This post is a part of Timeless Thoughts, a monthly link-up hosted by Georgie and Tara where bloggers share something they’ve missed from their past. OK. OK. That’s basically my entire blog, but I’m doing this anyway. Sue me.

Whether you’re turning on the television or going through Netflix, you will surely be bombarded with crime drama after crime drama after crime drama. For the past several years, I’ve wondered “When are we finally going to get fewer crime dramas and more light-hearted comedy-dramas? Obviously, it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps the Powers That Be thought they were making progress when they gave the green-light to various remakes of movies turned crime dramas. Yeah, to me, they took a giant step backwards.

What’s wrong with a nice comedy-drama about a group of people trying to deal with everyday problems of everyday lives? Sure, you don’t want to watch someone do their taxes, but there are literally a billion possibilities for interesting story lines. Addiction. Mental Illness.Medical Condition. Extreme fear of bunnies. The possibilities are endless.

Over the years there have been a few shows here and there that were hour-along and did not involve a cop with a mysterious past solving crimes or a grumpy doctor who hates everyone. Every time these shows come along, it makes me smile. Below are just a few moments that I find amusing from non-crime dramas that I love. Yay for no one being murdered.

Going back to 2010 and watching TV shows on ABC no one knows

I like to think of myself as a television fan who has vast knowledge more on obscure, barely-known shows than popular shows that almost every person in every country has heard of. Like seriously, if you’re Australian and you haven’t at least heard of Friends, I will slap you with a bald eagle. And you will like it.

I am quite fond of the year 2010. I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps it’s because it’s the year I decided to go back to college. Maybe it’s because it was just a good year for television. Or it’s just a round number. I don’t know.

When I think of good TV shows in 2010, I often think of ABC. This is mostly because it was the network I was watching quite a few TV shows that premiered (and later got canceled) that year. I, of course, don’t discriminate against any network. I just used to watch a lot of ABC at the time. Like I always say, sue me.

My Generation
Summary: A mockumentary drama about a group of people in Austin, Texas who participated in a documentary about their senior year of high school ten years prior, the documentary crew comes back to see what they’ve been up to.

Note: I wrote a more detailed post here.

The Gates
Summary: The new police chief of a gated community quickly realizes that the people aren’t who they appear to be.

The Deep End
Summary: Five first-year lawyers start their careers at one of the most prestigious law firms while trying to juggle both their professional and personal livesw. Think of it as the lawyer version of Grey’s Anatomy with not as man sex scenes.

When hashtags and memes ruin anti-tobacco ad campaigns

I am sure it’s to no one’s surprise when I say things have gotten progressively worse when it comes to television. Our society is drowning in crime procedurals. Cartoons of today are nowhere near as good as cartoons from over 10 years ago were. Worst of them are, HGTV is no longer showing home decorating shows. It’s really depressing. Now, things have gotten even worse. The Truth, an anti-tobacco ad campaign, has had a makeover to appear to a younger generation, and it’s not pretty.

Started in 1999, The Truth’s main objective is to educate the younger generation about the truths of the tobacco industry. Over the years, it’s gone through several different campaigns. They first started with commercials that were dark and sent a powerful message. The first commercial they released in 2000 showed a group of people dumping 1,200 empty body bags in front of a big tobacco company in order to symbolize the amount of people who die each day (at the time) from smoking. Toward the mid 2000s, they aired commercials that were lighter where group of people sang songs that mocked the tobacco industry. They then did a total 180 when they showed commercials featuring ex-smokers with various defects. They’re very similar to the Tobacco Free Florida commercials. I will do everyone a favor here and not link to these videos. They’re quite disturbing, and I do not want to scar anyone for life. Since 2014, they have decided to get away from being rebellious, serious and informative, and stated a campaign aimed toward teenagers and college students to stop teenage smoking. The aim is to end teenage smoking. Yeah, good luck with that. You need more than memes and hashtags to stop any demographic from smoking.

Not surprisingly, I like the older commercials better. Sigh. I’ve officially become one of those people who shouts “BRING BACK THE OLD STUFF.” Well, at least it fits with my blog.

Timeless Thoughts: Crying in the corner where a TV should be

This post is a part of Timeless Thoughts, a monthly link-up hosted by Georgie and Tara where bloggers share something they’ve missed from their past. OK. OK. That’s basically my entire blog, but I’m doing this anyway. Sue me.

You come home from a hard day of work. All you want is to relax and enjoy your life. You walk into your living room and see your loving TV. It immediately greets you with open arms. You smile at it as if you’re seeing an old college friend you haven’t seen in years. You then sit down on your couch, grab the remote and enjoy your shows.

I am one of those unfortunate people who does not have a TV. I heavily rely on online resources. You might think, “Oh, it’s enough. Go cry about something else.” I am here to tell you, no, it is not enough, and I will not stop crying over this unfortunate loss.

Taken from here

You may wonder why I ultimately gave up having a TV. The honest answer is that it was one less thing for me to move with me, and I thought I could survive using Hulu and Netflix. I have but, believe it or not, as a result, this choice has made me nostalgic of having a TV. I’m like the only person who sees a TV as nostalgic, as most people still have one. I’m a disturbed person, I know.

In my college years, I took a class called TV and Society. Yes, there are such classes. Don’t be so shocked. In the first class I attended (I signed up for the class late), the professor asked who didn’t have a TV. I was the only person who raised their hand. She looked at me as if I showed up to the class naked. She then looked at the class and proceeded to say, “There’s always at least one.” I politely laughed while secretly thinking, “Um, I didn’t want to lug a TV with me every time I moved. I’m not an alien.”

Not having a TV (and cable) was ultimately my personal choice, but I reminisce every single day about turning on the TV and finding something, anything that will satisfy my soul for at least a little while, at any given moment. I can, of course, do that now with my laptop, but it’s simply not the same.

I will eventually get a TV but for now, staring at my laptop for hours with a look of disappointment and contempt, will do.

atv3

Taken from here

The only guide to TV voice overs in the entire universe

I’ve mentioned my fondness for voice overs in TV shows before, but I feel like it’s necessary to go further in depth. Let’s face it, this is part one of 500 posts. I hope you’re in your pajamas and you’ve got your popcorn ready for snacking. You’re going to be here for a while.

Believe it or not, there are different types of TV voice overs. If you’re not really into voice overs, it’s easy to jumble all of them together. Fret not, with my wonderful, twisted sense of humor, here is a short guide to help you navigate the confusing world of TV voice overs.

The “This is my life, and I hate it” voice over

Full of unlimited angst, apathy for society and witty one-liners, the narrators of these voice overs are not happy with their individual lives and are dealing with their problems through self-deprecation, negativity and sarcasm. The voice overs are sprinkled throughout the episode. At times, some appear to be thoughts that the characters are thinking at that very moment. Two such examples of this are Dead Like Me and Veronica Mars

George Lass is a young woman who unexpectedly dies from an exploding toilet and becomes a reaper. Not surprisingly, George is disappointed that she’s done nothing with her life and that she has to stay away from her family. The interesting thing is that although we see just a small glimpse of her life before she died, it appears that her personality didn’t really change. She’s always been sarcastic and apathetic. Over time, she becomes less angry and is more accepting of her situation, but she is who she’s always been.

Veronica Mars is a teenage girl who works for her father, a private investigator and has learned a thing or two from her. She’s trying to solve the murder of her best friend, Lily. Veronica’s life went downhill after Lily’s death and, as a result, she, well, hates everyone. Unlike George, she went through a drastic personality change due to a series of events that are briefly shown in flashbacks and told through voice overs. Although Veronica does change over time, its clear that she’s never going to be the person she was before Lily’s death.

The “I am detached from my life, and I might be a sociopath” voice over

Cold, methodical and detached from society for whatever reason, the characters of these voice overs are often dealing with difficult situations, like the characters above, but instead of sarcasm, they find comfort in burying themselves in isolation and self-destruction. The voice overs are usually either at the beginning, end or both of each episode and are often technical and not specific to them as individuals. Two such examples are Grey’s Anatomy and Revenge.

In Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith Grey is one of a group of medical interns starting their first year of interning at Seattle Grace. We quickly learn how damaged Meredith is, mostly due to issues pertaining to her mother. She is deemed by her colleagues as “dark and twisty” in the beginning. Little by little, Meredith finds her way and carves a nice little life for herself. Unfortunately, life keeps throwing her and her fellow colleagues horrible situation after horrible situation.

The voice overs are usually of a medical context and are completely devoid of Meredith’s personal life and situations. It’s as if she’s doing the narration of a medical documentary. Though they don’t really add anything to the story line, they add to the tone and overall feeling of the show.

Revenge is about a young woman named Amanda Clarke, who is now under the identity of Emily Thorne, seeking revenge on the family that destroyed her family. Like Veronica Mars, Amanda goes through a major change off-script and goes through a smaller change over time.

Unlike Grey’s anatomy, the voice overs aren’t as consistent. For the most part, there is usually a detached, technical voice over at the end of each episode, but there is no voice over in the beginning. The exception to this is the first episode where Emily gives a more detailed voice over where she talks about her past and how her story is one about revenge and not forgiveness. In some episodes, there are no voice overs.

The “What to do if you need to make a bomb out of cleaning supplies” voice over

A complex mash-up of the other two, in this vice over, the narrator is throughout each episode, but the voice overs consist of mostly technical instructions, as if it were a how-to video instead of a TV show. A good example of this is Burn Notice.

Michael Westen is a burned spy who is trying to find out who burned him. Not surprisingly, the situation is more complicated than he thought. Meanwhile, he helps everyday ordinary people with their individual problems, mostly dealing with criminals wanting to kill them for whatever reason. The voice overs add a layer to Michael’s cold interior and we see he really is a spy with a vast pool of knowledge and unlimited skills.

Michael reveals virtually no personal details in his voice overs and is simply providing information, whether that’s how to build a bomb out of cleaning supplies, the reality of being a spy or thoughtful observations.

In the beginning of the first episode, Michael explains what being a spy is really like:

“Covert Intelligence involves a lot of waiting around. Know what it’s like being a spy? Like sitting in your dentist’s reception area 24 hours a day. You read magazines, sip coffee and ever so often, someone tries to kill you.”

Sounds like fun. I’m in.

Timeless Thoughts: Watching Dexter doesn’t make you a serial killer

This post is a part of Timeless Thoughts, a monthly link-up hosted by Georgie and Tara where bloggers share something they’ve missed from their past. OK. OK. That’s basically my entire blog, but I’m doing this anyway. Sue me.

Once upon a time ago, we used to be surrounded by TV shows centering around serial killers. They were apparently a big thing back in the mid to late 2000s. There have been a few serial killer TV shows that came out in recent years; most notably, Hannibal, but it’s just not as much of a thing as it used to be. As a society, we are always changing. I guess we’re transitioning from serial killers and vampires to race issues and remakes. How exciting for us.

Dexter is a TV show that I instantly fell in love with. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, Dexter Morgan is a serial killer who kills serial killers. Adopted by Harry Morgan, the police officer who found him covered in his mother’s blood next to her body, he quickly learns he is not like most people. He has what he calls his “dark passenger,” an urge within himself that makes him want to kill. Henry teaches Dexter “the code,” a set of guidelines specifically made for Dexter to tame and satisfy his urge to kill. Yes, it’s a TV show your entire family will love.

The show has the two elements that I am the most fond of: voice overs and damaged characters. It’s very difficult to find a TV show with a voice over, but they add so much depth and character. The voice overs show exactly how damaged Dexter is, and he’s quite aware of it. I like how he’s detached from society, but he is trying to appear as normal as possible. As Dexter will learn over time, it’s very difficult to be normal when you kill people in your spare time. Oh, the joys of suffering a childhood trauma.

Sadly, it ended in 2013, and it ended on a disastrous note. I still miss it though and have very fond memories of watching the first season. I remember when I started watching Dexter, my entire family as worried that I was going to turn into a serial killer just from watching. Yeah, sure, mom. I’m going to murder our next-door neighbor right after I finish this episode. Sigh.

Oddly enough, Dexter is a character that one can relate to. Sure, he’s a detached serial killer, but he does have a strong ethical code and he’s trying to be as normal as he can be, given who he is as a human being. I see him as a character who sees himself outside of society, and instead of hiding in a small cabin of woods in severeisolation, he has decided to assimilate and be a productive member of society. He may be a serial killer, but he’s also a decent human being.

A guide for people who want to watch TV shows that no one watches anymore

I am a big TV fan but for the past five years, I’ve been feeling a little bit out of the loop with what’s currently on television. Of course, I have Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, but I still feel as if I’m that weird guy staring at a group of colleagues talking about, let’s say Mr. Robot. Sure, I watched the first few episodes when it was available on Hulu but after that, nada, zero, zilch. Ugh. I hate living without a TV.

Because I haven’t been keeping up with most shows currently on the air, or even ones that have been cancelled within the last two years or so, like Breaking Bad, for example, I am being nostalgic of canceled shows that I’ve been fond of over the years. I have taken three popular TV shows that are currently on the air and comparing them to similar canceled shows that aren’t as popular. Enjoy, and I hope you don’t groan in disgust too many times.

If you like Grey’s Anatomy, try…

Mercy

I’ve given up on Grey’s Anatomy long ago due to -cough- certain events that happened, but I loved the first five seasons. I honestly miss when the other characters referred to Meredith as “dark and twisty.” Mercy is a similar medical drama that primarily centers around three nurses: Veronica, an Iraq war vet who is suffering from PTSD and has a boatload of other problems; Sonia, her down-to-earth best friend who is developing a relationship with a cop; and Chloe, a recent college graduate who is overly optimistic and naive. As you go further into the series , you will discover that Veronica puts “dark and twisty” in a whole new level. Like any medical drama, they are dealing with their own issues and inner demons while trying to take care of their patients and being supportive of one another. The only difference between the two shows is that there aren’t nearly as many sex and hookup scenes between the co-workers in Mercy. Surprisingly, a show can be quite enjoyable when everyone’s not sleeping with one another.

If you like The Big Bang Theory, try…

Go On

These two shows might seem completely unrelated to each other, but they both feature groups of socially awkward friends who all have one thing in common. In The Big Bang Theory, the show revolves around a group of geniuses (and one who is not) who are all socially inept in their own individual ways. In Go On, Ryan King, a host of a sports radio show, recently lost his wife and is forced to go to a support group where everyone is dealing with a difficult situation (loss of a loved one or pet, divorce, blindness, being left at the altar, etc.) Go on is a bit darker than The Big Bang Theory, but the banter between the characters balances the more serious moments. Go On even has their very own Sheldon, who is only known as Mr. K. Of course, he’s less ADD and more of a creepy stalker, but they both have the role of “weird eccentric guy that everyone doesn’t like at first but grows on them very slowly over time” filled.

If you like Person of Interest, try…

Burn Notice

Now, Burn Notice is a well-known show, but it’s here because Person of Interest is a carbon copy of Burn Notice. They’re both shows about a group of people helping individuals with dire situations, mostly involving criminals trying to kill them for whatever reason. Along with this, there is also a “bigger picture” that reveals itself bit by bit with each episode. In Person of Interest, it revolves around the machine that one of the main characters, Mr Finch built for the US government: its past, its evolution and the various antagonists who want to control it. In Burn Notice, Michael Westen is a spy who got burned and is trying to find out who burned him. Not surprisingly, it turns out to be a lot more complicated than he originally thought. Both are filled with suspense, red herrings and fight scenes that I have absolutely no interest in. Oh, and a lot of people die. That’s fun.

This is my generation, and it got canceled

For the longest time, I’ve been obsessed with canceled TV shows. Like with most people who grew up in the 90s, this started with reminiscing about old shows on Nickelodeon, ABC and PBS, particularly game shows and cartoons. I can’t go without a day without thinking either about a canceled TV show or a memory that revolves around watching a canceled TV show. Yes, I know. My life is exciting.

Lately, it’s been more difficult for me to watch recent episodes of current TV shows, since I no longer have a TV, let alone cable. Like most TV addicts without a TV, I rely heavily on Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. It’s sad, really. From time to time, I think back to the shows I watched back when I had a TV, and it’s almost always one that has long since been canceled. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or I just don’t know what the heck is going on with TV anymore. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

There is a particular TV show coming to mind right now that I was obsessed with for a while roughly three years after it got canceled. Released in the Fall of 2010, My Generation was a mockumentary on ABC that centered around a group of young adults in Texas who were filmed in their senior year of high school 10 year prior by a documentary film crew, and the film crew comes back to see what they’re up to. So, apparently the idea of this mockumentary is that the fictional film crew followed them for a year, and then came back 10 years later to film them indefinitely. Yes, that doesn’t seem strange or inconsistent at all.

Coined as the first dramatic mockumentary TV show, there was an emphasis put on how real-world events between the years 2000 and 2010 impacted each character as individuals and groups. One character enlisted in the military after 9/11. Another character lost his father to suicide as a result of the Enron scandal, and had a strained relationship with another character whose father was involved in the scandal. It combined both reality and fiction, and while I don’t understand the logistics of being followed by a film crew for an indefinite amount of time, it certainly added another layer to what would have been a two-dimensional light-hearted drama.

Unfortunately, it was canceled after only three episodes. The rest of the episodes became available online. There was a lot of confusion surrounding whether or not it was a real documentary or a scripted show, and I believe that played a large part on why it failed. Of course, one could simply just look at the show’s IMDB page and see that it was a scripted show. This is actually the most endearing part about My Generation. Even though it was a scripted fictional show, it was written and portrayed as if it were real. I have a soft spot for light-hearted dramas though. I’m sick and tired of crime dramas. We get it. Someone is murdered and the main characters are trying to solve it. Move on already.

The one thing I was fascinated with this show was that all of the characters are supposed to be the same age, and I was surprised that the age range between the actors who played the characters was only six years. Knowing the age range between actors on a main cast can vary significantly, I was pleasantly surprised that the age range was relatively close. Then, I realized, wait, a six year age gap between the actors of a main cast might not be huge, but it’s not tiny either. Sigh. i always have low expectations.

While randomly going through IMDB, I happened to come across yet another cancelled ABC show called Happy Endings, that revolves around a group of friends and the aftermath of a breakup that happened between two of them. The age gap here between the actors is just four years. What’s even more amazing is that the characters are supposedly of various ages.

Yes, I am aware that I need to stop obsessing over trivial things like canceled TV shows and age gaps between cast members on a TV show. Maybe I should take up knitting.