Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Best Episodes of 2014

And welcome to another end of year best episodes list! As always, I prefer to focus on episodes at the end of the year, while leaving the best shows list for June. If you were here for last year's list, you know the drill, but for those that weren't, here are the basic rules:

- In general, no (or very few) premium cable shows were considered, because I don't usually get to see those shows until well after they air.

- No more than two episodes from any one show can make the cut (and in most cases, I make an effort to restrict myself to just one). The reason for this is that, despite how much great TV there is every year, there are always a few shows that tend to tower above the rest. Last year those shows were Breaking Bad and Enlightened. This year it's Broad City, The Americans, and Transparent, which could easily have combined to take 17 or 18 of the 20 spots by themselves. But where's the fun in that? So this isn't really a true top 20, but rather a top 20 that aims to capture what I feel are the finest episodes of many of 2014's greatest shows.

- Ordinarily I'd write some stuff about every single episode in the top twenty and post this as a two-part list, but I'm writing my undergraduate thesis next spring, so right now I'm working on getting a head start on that. Therefore, I've only done write-ups for the top ten this time around. Sorry about that. Life of a student and all that.

- It saddens me to not be able to include Black Mirror on this list. I debated breaking the rules and allowing it to be included, since I didn't get the opportunity to watch it until recently. But seeing as it officially aired in the U.S. during the last few months of 2013, I decided against it. But had I allowed it, "Be Right Back" and "Fifteen Million Merits" would probably both have cracked the top five. Heck, they might have been my top two.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Top Ten Sleater-Kinney Songs

The recent revelation that Sleater-Kinney is reuniting and releasing a new album in January is about the most welcome bit of pop culture news of the year. I've never posted about S-K on here before, but here's what you need to know about them: I basically love them as much as anything on this Earth, and consider them the greatest American rock band of all time (only R.E.M. really comes close), as well as one of the three greatest bands from any country. (The other two are The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, of course.) A trio that emerged out of the riot grrrl movement of the 1990s, they produced six straight essentially perfect records in a row, before calling it quits for almost a decade. I've listened to those six albums many, many times, and at least twice a month I wander down a YouTube black hole of S-K concert footage for a few hours. So yeah, I'm excited, even if I'm worried I'm going to miss out on seeing them on their upcoming tour. (I doubt you're reading this, Sleater-Kinney, but if you are . . . an April show in Oklahoma City and/or a couple of summer dates in Chicago or Milwaukee would be much appreciated.) 

In any case, I thought I would honor this occasion with a list of my 10 favorite S-K songs. As usual with lists, a caveat is in order: while I'm pretty secure in my picks for the top five, the rest of the songs that make up the top ten could easily have been swapped with about 30-40 others. Just off the top of my head, those would include (in no particular order): "Funeral Song", "Entertain", "Get Up", "Dig Me Out", "Little Babies", "Words and Guitar", "Light Rail Coyote", "Modern Girl", "You're No Rock n' Roll Fun", "Good Things", "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone", "Stay Where You Are", "Start Together", "What's Mine is Yours", "Big Big Lights", "Dance Song '97", and "Bury Our Friends", among many others.

The top ten after the jump:

Friday, September 26, 2014

End of September Update

So, the academic year is already getting pretty hectic, and unsurprisingly I haven't been around much. However, I have been doing a series of relatively short posts over on Letterboxd about the films I've been watching as part of my ongoing 2014 horror film marathon. It's been a good one; I've seen a ton of really good stuff already (with Kairo and May being two of the biggest standouts thus far), with more hopefully to come over the month of October. You can find them all here, if you wish. Beyond that, the next post probably won't be until December, when I reveal my top episodes of the year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Best Shows of the 2013-14 Season - Part Two

With many veteran sitcoms (New GirlParks and Recreation, to a certain extent Bob's Burgers) struggling to consistently reach the heights they have in the past, the year in comedy was to me primarily about the new shows on the block. Three of those shows are included here, where they join a quartet of esteemed dramas (three from cable, plus one network standout) to make up my picks for the seven finest television programs I saw in 2013-14.

Massive spoilers for The Good Wife (and minor spoilers for everything else) after the jump:

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Best Shows of the 2013-14 Season - Part One

So, I went a little overboard with this year's list, at least relative to last year's. While that one fit into a single post, this time I wound up picking not only ten shows and writing a few hundred words on each, but also selecting ten honorable mentions from among this fine crop of 2013-14 series and writing some stuff on each of those. (And I still left off some good shows.) The result is a list that I think is a lot better than last season's, and a lot more reflective of all the great stuff that aired on TV during the past year. But it's also considerably longer. Because of this, I've elected to divide it into two parts: the first covering the honorable mentions and shows #10-8, and the second (which will post Wednesday) counting down from #7 to #1.

As usual, this covers programs that aired during the last 12 months. Minor spoilers for most of the shows listed (and fairly major ones for Hannibal):

Friday, May 23, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 10 Stages of Being a "Community" Contrarian

The Community season five finale airs tonight. In its honor (and reflecting my own well-documented tendency to disagree with the prevailing opinions about this season's episodes), I present the 10 stages of being a Community contrarian. These will be my last words ever on the subject of this show.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

On "Trophy Wife's" Reprehensible Slut-Shaming Storyline

Some brief thoughts—of the angry and disappointed variety—on a recent episode of Trophy Wife (with spoilers) after the jump:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review - "Fun Home" Cast Recording

A review of the Fun Home recording after the jump. Contains spoilers, I guess, but come on . . . it's not like knowing details about a piece of musical theatre (and one that isn't about plot in any way, for that matter) is going to impact your enjoyment of it. So go ahead and read. Then go buy this recording, because it's amazing.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm On Letterboxd!

Yep, I finally caved and created a Letterboxd account, which you can find here. For the most part, I'll still be posting any reviews or other film-related pieces I write (which as usual are going to be few and far between during the semester) here, and simply linking to them from there. But from time to time I may have briefer thoughts on a given film—like Captain Phillips, which I saw yesterday and loved—that I'll post over there instead. So if you have an account and want to follow me, feel free.

Friday, January 3, 2014