Monday, April 30, 2018

A to Z Challenge: Z

Aired:  1957 - 1959 (two seasons)
Vague Description:  A wealthy land owner's son doubles as a masked crusader in Spanish California.
Starred:  Guy Williams, Gene Sheldon
Why Watch:  It's a throwback to a simpler era, when TV was for entertainment.  Good guys vs. bad guys, rooting for the underdog, etc.
Dissenting Opinion:  It can be a bit too simple.
Fun Fact:  Guest stars included Cesar Romero and Annette Funicello.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A to Z Challenge: Y

Aired:  2000 - 2006 (six seasons)
Vague Description:  Married couple lives in the guest house of the wife's sister and her husband.
Starred:  Anthony Clark, Jean Louisa Kelly
Why Watch:  It's a safe, high-floor sit-com.
Honorable Mention:  The homage to The Usual Suspects.
Dissenting Opinion: It's a low-ceiling sit-com.  Kind of surprised it lasted six seasons.   

Friday, April 27, 2018

A to Z Challenge: X

Aired:  1993 - 2002, 2016 - Current (eleven seasons)
Vague Description:   Two FBI agents investigate marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena.
Stars:  David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Why Watch:  You're into mysterious, unexplained stuff.
Dissenting Opinion:  If you don't like the two main characters, you might have trouble getting interested in this show.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A to Z Challenge: W

Aired:  2010 - Current (eight seasons)
Vague Description:  In the post-apocalyptic South, a group of allies fends off zombies and sketchy humans in a fight for survival.
Stars:  Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan
Why Watch:  It's a gritty, unique long-format show. A lot of action, but some thinking too.
Note:  Based on a comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard
Note:  As it's a current series, I have not seen the more recent seasons.

Aired:  1978 - 1982 (four seasons)
Vague Description:  Behind the scenes at an Ohio radio station.
Starred:  Howard Hesseman, Loni Anderson
Why Watch:  Hesseman, Jan Smithers

Aired:  1988 - 1993 (six seasons)
Vague Description:  An adolescent boy and his friends in the late 1960s - early 1970s.
Starred:  Fred Savage, Danica McKellar
Why Watch:  It's a show that humanizes its characters.
Honorable Mention:  Olivia d'Abo

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A to Z Challenge: V

Aired:  2013 - Current (five seasons)
Vague Description:  Danish / Swedish Viking Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons do Viking things.
Starred:  Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick
Why Watch:  It's arguably the best current TV show about Vikings.
Note:  As with other current shows, I have not seen the more recent seasons.

Aired:  2011 - Current (fourteen seasons)
Vague Description:  Singing competition with famous singers as team leaders.
Stars:  Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera (seasons 1-3, 5, 8, 10)
Why Watch:  It's American Idol with better singing and no Ryan Seacrest.
Dissenting Opinion:  They've allowed experienced recording artists to compete (and win), which takes some of the fun out of it for some people.
Fun Fact: Shelton once gave out Levine's phone number on air.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A to Z Challenge: U

Aired:  2006 - 2010 (four seasons)
Vague Description:  An unstylish young woman works for a prestigious fashion magazine.
Starred:  America Ferrera, Vanessa Williams
Why Watch:  It's on?
Honorable Mention:  Salma Hayek's guest appearances.
Dissenting Opinion:  It's only on here because 'U' is weak.  I have not seen any episodes of Upstairs Downstairs, though apparently it was good.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A to Z Challenge: T

Aired:  1977 - 1984 (eight seasons)
Vague Description:  Single man living with two single women in Santa Monica.
Starred:  John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt
Why Watch:  It's an amusing show that doesn't try too hard.
Honorable Mention:  Suzanne Somers (seasons 1 - 5)
Dissenting Opinion:  It wasn't quite as good after Somers left.
Fun Fact:  Ritter is the only actor to appear in every episode.  DeWitt missed one.

Aired:  2008 - 2014 (seven seasons)
Vague Description:  Vampires are out and proud in Louisiana.
Starred:  Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer
Why Watch:  It's a vampire show for adults.
Honorable Mention:  Deborah Ann Woll
Note:  Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries, a series of novels by Charlaine Harris.

Aired:  1959 - 1964 (five seasons)
Vague Description:  Sci-fi / fantasy / horror anthology series.
Hosted By:  Rod Serling, the show's creator
Why Watch:  Its uniqueness and ability to convey a message while entertaining.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Book Tag

Stolen from

1.  How many books are too many in a series?
     If each book is a stand-alone, it can go on for as long as the author can think of good stories.  If it's a series that requires one to read each book in order, I probably won't read any of them. 

2.  How do you feel about cliffhangers?
     At the end of a chapter?  I feel good.  At the end of a book?  I feel unhappy.

3.  Hardback or paperback?
     Paperback.  Lighter, more portable, easier to hold whilst on my back in bed. 

4.  Favorite books?
     The Long Good-Bye - Raymond Chandler
     The Spy Who Came In from the Cold - John Le Carre
     An Equal Music - Vikram Seth
     Mother Night - Kurt Vonnegut
     The Long Walk - Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
     Vox - Nicholson Baker
     On the Road - Jack Kerouac

5.  Least favorite books?
     Long ones, books that are p.c. just to be p.c., needlessly intellectual ones, and books in genres I don't like.

6.  Love triangles? Yes or no?
     Well, I did just mention a love triangle as one of my favorite books.  I think it can be done well and it can be done badly. The love triangles I like tend to involve single men in love with married women.

7.  The most recent book you didn't finish?
     Sugar - Jenna Jameson and Hope Tarr

8.  A book you are currently reading?
     Mr. Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult - Bohumil Hrabal

9.  Last book you recommended to someone?
     I don't know.  I recommend books to A.J. when she asks for recommendations from her readers.

10.  Oldest book you've read?
       Meh. I read The Odyssey and Oedipus Rex.

11.  Newest book you've read?
       When We Were Ghouls - Amy Wallen  (March 1, 2018)

12.  Favorite Authors?
       Dead ones?  Ha.  Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming, Eric Ambler, Kurt Vonnegut, John Le Carre, Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, Bernard Malamud, Elmore Leonard

13.  Buying books or borrowing books?
       Borrowing from the library.  I can no longer afford nice things.

14.  A book you dislike that everybody seems to love?
       Any popular book that is too long.  A lot of poetry collections, because my standards are weird.

15.  Bookmarks or dog-ears?

16.  A book you can always re-read?
       Hmm. I am not a re-reader.

17.  Can you read while listening to music?
       Kind of?  I read at the coffee house where there's background music. But at home, the music has to be instrumental.

18.  One point-of-view or multiple?
       Either.  I liked B. Monkey and The Collector, and more recently The Word Exchange.  Those are two POV novels.  I liked The Year of Silence, which has a chapter each for several POV.  But most of the books I read are one POV.

19.  Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
       Multiple days usually.  I've read poetry collections and graphic novels in one sitting, but having recently been forced to cut back on my coffee I think those days are over.  Because I'm not staying at the coffee houses as long with only buying one cup.

20.  A book you read because of the cover?
       The Washingtonienne - Jessica Cutler

Anyway, consider yourself tagged.  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A to Z Challenge: S

Aired:  1989 - 1998 (nine seasons)
Vague Description:  Four single friends in New York City.
Starred:  Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Why Watch:  It's the smartest, funniest sit-com in TV history.

Aired:  1998 - 2004 (six seasons)
Vague Description:  Four female friends in New York City.
Starred:  Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis
Why Watch:  Its portrayal of relationships and how people are flawed, messy creatures yet can still be likeable.
Dissenting Opinion:  It sometimes focused on its target audience a bit too much.

Aired:  1989 - Current (29 seasons)
Vague Description:  Animated show about a family in Springfield.
Stars:  Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright
Why Watch:  Its combination of cartoonish fun and adult suitability.

Aired:  1999 - 2007 (six seasons)
Vague Description:  A New Jersey mobster, his family, and his "family".
Starred:  James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli
Why Watch:  It took one of the best film genres and made it a long-format HBO show.
Honorable Mention:  Drea de Matteo

Note:  This is another heavy letter.  Shows that missed the cut include: SNL, Scrubs, and Star Trek.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A to Z Challenge: R

Aired:  1982 - 1987 (five seasons)
Vague Description:  Female detective and the man who portrays her fictitious male superior.
Starred:  Pierce Brosnan, Stephanie Zimbalist
Why Watch:  Its blend of comedy and crime fighting. Zimbalist.

Aired:  1987 - 1990 (five seasons)
Vague Description:  Pop culture game show that aired on MTV.
Starred:  Ken Ober, Colin Quinn
Why Watch:  It's the game show that defined a generation.
Honorable Mentions:  Adam Sandler, Denis Leary, Kari Wuhrer

Aired:  2010 - 2015 (six seasons)
Vague Description:  Canadian police drama.
Starred:  Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith
Why Watch:  Arguably the best Canadian TV show ever.  Peregrym.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A to Z Challenge: Q

Aired:  1989 - 1993 (five seasons)
Vague Description:  A physicist leaps through space-time to correct historical mistakes.
Starred:  Scott Bakula, Dean Stockwell
Why Watch:  It's a decent blend of sci-fi, humor, and drama.
Dissenting Opinion:  I don't think I watched much of it, because I remember watching it but I don't remember the second co-star.  So maybe it's a mediocre show that lucked out by starting with 'Q'.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A to Z Challenge: P

Aired:  2009 - 2015 (seven seasons)
Vague Description:  The Parks Department of Pawneee, Indiana.
Starred:  Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman
Why Watch:  Aubrey Plaza, Offerman

Aired:  1997 - 2004 (eight seasons)
Vague Description:  Boston lawyers.
Starred:  Dylan McDermott, Kelli Williams
Why Watch:  Williams, Lara Flynn Boyle, if you like legal dramas.
Dissenting Opinion:  It went downhill near the end due to left-wing politics and a silly story arc involving James Spader.

Aired:  2007 - 2009 (two seasons)
Vague Description:  A pie-maker, who can bring dead things back to life, helps solve murder cases.
Starred:  Anna Friel, Lee Pace
Why Watch:  Its whimsy.  Its blending of various genres. Friel. 
Honorable Mention:  Jim Dale's narration.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Barbara Bush

A to Z Challenge: O

Aired:  2005 - 2013 (nine seasons)
Vague Description:  The lives of the employees of a Scranton paper company.
Starred:  Steve Carell (seasons 1 -7), Rainn Wilson
Why Watch:  The goofiness of Michael (Carell) and the fascinating complexity of Dwight (Wilson).
Honorable Mentions:  Ellie Kemper (seasons 6 - 9).  "That's what she said."
Note:  Based on the BBC series of the same name.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A to Z Challenge: N

Aired:  2003 - Current (fifteen seasons)
Vague Description:  Special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Stars:  Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette, Michael Weatherly (seasons 1 - 13)
Why Watch:  It's a cop show that doesn't take itself too seriously.  Perrette.
Notes:  As this is a current show, I haven't seen the more recent seasons.  Perrette is leaving.

Aired:  1982 - 1990 (eight seasons)
Vague Description:  A married couple operate an inn in a small Vermont town.
Starred:  Bob Newhart, Mary Frann
Why Watch:  Newhart
Dissenting Opinion:  Larry, Darryl, and Darryl got old after a while.

Aired:  1995 - 1999 (five seasons)
Vague Description:  The goings-on at an AM radio station in New York City.
Starred:  Dave Foley, Maura Tierney
Why Watch:  Witty dialogue. Tierney.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A to Z Challenge: M

Aired:  1992 - 1999 (seven seasons)
Vague Description:  Married couple in New York City.
Starred:  Helen Hunt, Paul Reiser
Why Watch:  It's a show about married people that doesn't leave single people behind.
Fun Fact:  In November 1992, it was revealed that Paul Buchman (Reiser) was the previous tenant of Cosmo Kramer's (Seinfeld) apartment.

Aired:  2007 - 2015 (seven seasons)
Vague Description:  Madison Avenue advertising agency employees and their families in the 1960's.
Starred:  Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss
Why Watch:  It's one of the better long-format shows.  Hendricks and Jessica Pare (seasons 4 - 7).

Aired:  1972 - 1983 (eleven seasons)
Vague Description:  The doctors and support staff of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in the Korean War.
Starred:  Alan Alda, Loretta Swit
Why Watch:  The skillful blend of comedy and drama.
Fun Fact:  Based on the 1970 film of the same name, which was based on a 1968 novel by Richard Hooker.
Less Fun Fact:  The instrumental theme song actually has lyrics, and is called "Suicide Is Painless".

Aired:  1984 - 1990 (five seasons)
Vague Description:  Miami police detectives fight crime.
Starred:  Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Edward James Olmos
Why Watch:  You like cop shows, but you want something a bit different.
Fun Fact:  Sonny Crockett (Johnson) played football for the Florida Gators, yet he is often seen in a Kansas Jayhawks shirt. Johnson attended the University of Kansas.
Less Fun Fact:  G. Gordon Liddy guest starred.
Honorable Mention:  "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" is one of my favorite TV show episodes.
Dissenting Opinion:  The show fell victim to outside forces, which led to a couple disappointing story arcs: the Sheena Easton arc and the amnesia arc.

Note:  M is surprisingly strong with TV shows.  Modern Family, Monk, Moonlighting, and Murder She Wrote all missed the cut but would have easily been included in most letters.  

Friday, April 13, 2018

A to Z Challenge: L

Aired:  1990 - 2010 (twenty seasons)
Vague Description:  New York City police detectives investigate a crime. The DA's office prosecutes the accused.
Starred:  Sam Waterston, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jerry Orbach
Why Watch:  It's a well-paced, realistic, gritty crime show. 
Honorable Mentions:  Waterston (seasons 5 - 20), Jill Hennessy (seasons 4 - 6), Angie Harmon (seasons 9 - 11)

Aired:  2008 - 2012 (five seasons)
Vague Description:  A five-person team stands up for the downtrodden.
Starred:  Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman
Why Watch:  Good vs. evil stories with modern sensibilities.  Hutton.

Aired:  2004 - 2010 (six seasons)
Vague Description:  Plane crash survivors on an island in the Pacific Ocean.
Starred:  Evangeline Lilly, Matthew Fox
Why Watch:  Its uniqueness and unpredictability.  Lilly.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A to Z Challenge: K

Aired:  2011 - 2014 (four seasons)
Vague Description:  Seattle homicide detectives investigate murders.
Starred: Mirielle Enos, Joel Kinnaman
Why Watch:  Enos and Kinnaman are good as the leads. It's gritty and cynical.
Fun Fact:  Based on Forbrydelsen, a Danish TV series.

Aired:  1998 - 2007 (nine seasons)
Vague Description:  Youngish married couple live in NYC, deal with job issues and her father.
Starred:  Leah Remini, Kevin James
Why Watch:  Remini

Aired:  1973 - 1978 (five seasons)
Vague Description:  Police detective Theo Kojak fights crime in New York City.
Starred:  Telly Savalas
Why Watch:  Savalas. If you like the cop shows of this era.