Who will make it in the TV Lifeboat?

Lifeboat TV shows MAIN


I think we can all agree (and by ‘we’ I mean every member of the human race, so encompassing is my forthcoming thesis) that someone, somewhere – insert your choice of deity/third world dictator/secret world society bent on domination and control being pursued by Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider character – has pushed the hyper fast forward on our lives, thrown in more and more sensory output till we feel like we’re about to explode in the manner of the glutton from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, and is even now working out how to weave additional hours and/or alternate universes of experiences into the mix (too much Fringe perhaps? Is that possible?) till Outlook begs for sweet mercy…

All agreed? See, that was easy and took but a second from your crazy frantic existence. Right so, given that we are all time poor from pursuing our ludicrously busy first world lives, something has got to give right? Well you would think so, and frankly that would be the sensible option but if you’re a ‘I must experience everything I can’ pop-culture loving person like myself, then dropping anything at all is anathema. Everything must be read. Everything must be listened to. Everything must be watched… then blogged about (how ironic that I mention while, uh, blogging), talked about on Twitter, updated on Facebook, recorded on Goodreads and…. and…. BOOM!



Now, you may think you know where this blog post is going. Social media has exhausted all of us as we rush frantically to and fro, stuffing our lives full into what we think are TARDIS-like suitcases (infinitely bigger on the inside for the uninitiated) and we must pull back, smell the flowers in a quiet field in Tuscany and reflect on the quiet beauty of just being with ourselves and our friends. If you though that, you’d be wrong, and clearly not as in agreement with me as I thought. (Or possibly I have constructed a vague and wandering thesis and should be shot at dawn by a cadre of fellow Tweeps).

No, what I am saying is, finally, is that I have decided that in order to have it all pop culture-wise, that I must pare down what I am looking at, hard though this is to do, and so, though it feels like I am leaving my pop culture out in the cold and dark to be picked by TV critics till they are no more, I am culling the TV shows I watch, and want to watch (ah, aspirational TV, you make me believe I can be a better TV viewer) and concentrating on those shows I can save. In practical terms, this means the following shows get to scramble aboard the lifeboat that I am jettisoning from the cruise ship of my life :



I have loved this show from the first episode, and while I know it has its detractors, and a wildly uneven second season which tested my loyalty, I love its sense of camp fun, the often wonderful song covers (not all of them work but kudos to them for giving it a shot), its treatment of some serious issues, and it’s Melrose Place-style dating merry-go-round.

Yes, I have only just finished watching season 2 (shh don’t tell Ryan Murphy) partly due to time pressures, and partly because I stopped at the Funeral episode fearing it would be too sad – and I have only managed to download the first three episodes of season3 so far, but it stays because every lifeboat needs glamourous discussion of important social issues, and Britney uttering the sort of bon mots I want to memorise and repeat to anyone who will listen (except on Sydney public transport where you just look weird if you try it.)
So much geeky fun and some of the wittiest scripts and best deliveries I have ever seen in a sit com. Plus they manage to actually bounce the humour off the character interaction without resorting to cheap laughs. Even when there are cheap laughs, it makes sense in the context of who these people and what their world view is. I laugh out loud multiple times in every episode (a rarity these days) and if you’re marooned in the lifeboat of life, you need an engaging, intelligent, humourous clown, or a posse of them.
This show, which started slowly like the X-Files on some particularly ineffective Valium, shook off its initial lethargy and spent seasons 2 and 3 becoming a creature so original, clever and engaging with characters that made sense and were a treat to spend time with, that I can only hope it lasts forever. It won’t of course but while it does, I will be watching for dear life, and hoping the show gets to paddle on for as long as it can.
Laura Linney rules! She plays her role with sass, fun and a sense of bluntness that is refreshing. She is dying from cancer damn it, and you can’t sugar coat it, or hide from it, so she won’t and it results in a show that is heartbreaking, hilarious and deeply insightful all in the space of a 20 minute episode.
I have had season 1 gathering a very unfashionable coat of dust for ages, having heard it was a gem of a show but only really got into it when my housemate played me some season 2 episodes. I was intending to watch one and watched a bunch of them, and if I am going to paddle out into the sea of life, I need no-nonsense Laura along for the ride!


I love quirky shows set in wacky small towns full of idiosyncratic people, and no one does it better than the producers of this show who have crafted a show that bristles with intelligence – it is about the people working for, and near the world’s foremost scientific facility after all – wit, and characters that are well rounded and not goofy parodies.
I know its been cancelled and frankly this has caused me much grief (for which not even copious amounts of Lindt chocolate were sufficient as a salve, if you can believe it) but I am only four episodes into season 3, so it will quite some time before the show shuffles off its broadcasting coil, and I am forced to sadly and with much ceremony push them out of the lifeboat.
So the lifeboat is reasonably full at this point right? So the sensible thing would be to call it quits at this point, set some wine and nibblies on the coffee table, adjust the air con (I don’t buy slum lifeboats, trust me) and let my witty, clever boat guests shock and awe me using their awesome powers of pop culture entertainment. But picking my five favourites  is akin to Solomon trying to split a baby in two – for the Biblically unversed, he didn’t actually go through with it so you can all relax – so I plan to have some shows swimming gamely alongside the lifeboat, which will be let in from time to time to sit with the Favoured Five and sup at the big kids table. Which lucky shows, which will need to be able strong of limb and swimming technique have made the grade? Why these ones, good people:
WAREHO– USE 13 – So much fun! The two leads have fantastic chemistry; the storylines are inventive, and the quirky vibe just what the left of centre doctor ordered.
MODERN FAMILY – Who knew you could re-invent the family sitcom and make something heart warming that doesn’t insult the intelligence and is witty into the bargain? Well you can!
TERRA NOVA – It is still sailing uncomfortably close to warm and fuzzy family moments for my liking and need some shades of darkness but I hope to keep this one in the loop.
HAVEN / IN TREATMENT / BORED TO DEATH – I bought the DVDs but I have not watched. I wish to, I really, really do. REALLY….. REALLY.
Now, I know you must be wondering – apart from when is this never ending post, um, ending, of course – is who has been mercilessly, yet with regret, tossed adrift into the chaos of the pop culture never to be seen, at least by me again? Why sadly, and I do regret this greatly, MAD MEN, WEEDS and PSYCH. They are all wonderful shows, the first two damn near magnificent, but I will never have the time to watch them from scratch in the right order, and so they must go, and maybe in some far distant time as I wait for my sago pudding to arrive in the nursing home, I will find the time, drool hopefully not trickling down my aged chin, to watch these shows, and make up for this horrible decision I have had to make.
For now though, I need to concentrate on jumping overboard and taking my precious cache of treasured shows with me onto my pop culture lifeboat and hoping against hope that life slows down enough that there aren’t any more casualties …

I Love the Emmys

I am a TV junkie.

I could say I have tried 12 step programs, detox units, and literary clubs to wean me off my habit but to no avail, and frankly I am not even slightly disappointed. Mainly because, these days, and it is increasingly so, TV is where all the real visual creativity is happening; it’s where many of the true visionaries are plying their trade and creating TV so powerful, clever or funny that you wonder why the movies, now reduced largely to remaking the same tired, dumb movies over and over, don’t just give up, hand their big screens over to TV, and let us all move in and watch wall to wall true creativity writ large. (Of course trying to clean up in of those cineplex bathrooms would require the patience of a saint, and the dexterity of a gymnast, but you get the idea.)

Jane Lynch hits the stage at The Emmys after her opening previously filmed piece of liquid crystal fabulousness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7C50iY04M8 (such a fun opening piece!)

So what is any TV junkie worth his or her remote doing tonight? Well they’re glued to their set watched TV’s night of nights unfold. Well, truth be told, as I write this, the Emmys have ended, the red carpet has been trod, surprise guests unleashed (no more so than Charlie Sheen popping up to present Best Actor in a Comedy Series), and Jane Lynch has performed her magic, managing to be oh-so-clever and funny all at the same time, and having a bundle of fun with an opening piece that features hilarious interactions with the cast of Big Bang Theory and Mad Men, among others, all based on the conceit that all the characters in every TV show live in the same building. What follows is not an exhaustive roll call of winners but rather my run down of what matters to me and a few choice photos to make it all visual and pretty (even so, a full list of winners and losers follows at the end of the blog since I am nothing if not a completist…. at times.)

First up, I am thrilled that Jim Parsons aka Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory has won the Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. He is such a supremely talented actor, and while BBT is a true ensemble relying on all its characters to bring on the laughs, it is Jim Parsons gift for comic timing and nuance that holds it all together, and is the focal point for the show. Well done Jim!

Keeping in the comedy vein, and who wouldn’t want to in a world as grim as ours is at the moment, Modern Family got the gong for Best Comedy Series (second win for them in this category), and it is richly deserved too. What could have been just another family-based sitcom, is instead richly nuanced, an accurate reflection of family life, and society generally in the 21st Century, and agent for social change – two gay fathers? Will civilisation survive this?! Of course it will, dear right wing poppets – all wrapped up in a heartwarming (but thankfully for those wanting to avoid pixal-caused pop culture diabetes, not corny) hilarious half hour that is a treat to watch each and every week.

They also walked away with wins for Julie Bowen, Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy (with a dress that must have drawn the heterosexual male demographic to the screen like moths to the proverbial) and TyBurrell, Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy (who wowed the crowd with a very funny stand up routine in lieu of thanking everyone, and his dog.)

And finally in amongst Martin Scorsese deservedly winning for directing Boardwalk Empire, and my one of my favourite comediennes around, Melissa McCarthy, who I have loved and adored since her days on The Gilmore Girls, winning for Outstanding Lead Actress, comedy in Mike and Molly, the English period soap, Downton Abbey with it’s exquisite portrayal of British aristocracy just prior to World War 1 when everything changed forever, romped home with four awards and proved that quality everything can triumph in a sea of mediocre reality TV shows, and poorly written scripted shows. 

I wouldn’t call this year’s ceremony a massive surprise, especially with shows like Amazing Race winning the Reality Show category again (less an indictment on the show itself, which I love, but more a reflection of the paucity of true genius in the category generally) and  Daily Show winning for the ninth straight year (mainly because it is awesomely fantastically hilarious and deserves to just be automatically given the Emmy for as long as it’s on air), but Jane Lynch was fun and refreshing, the genuine joy of many of the winners contagious (Melissa McCarthy’s teary speech was touching), and it managed to celebrate all that’s good about TV without overstaying it’s welcome. 

Melissa McCarthy holding her Emmy statuette aloft

Here are the night’s winners:

Outstanding comedy series: Modern Family
Outstanding drama series: Mad Men
Outstanding miniseries or movie: 
Downton Abbey
Outstanding lead actress, miniseries or movie: Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
Outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie: 
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Outstanding directing for a miniseries, movie or dramatic special: Brian Percival, Downton Abbey
Outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie: 
Barry Pepper, The Kennedys
Outstanding supporting actress, miniseries or movie: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Outstanding writing for a miniseries or movie: 
Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey
Outstanding lead actor, drama: 
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Outstanding lead actress, drama: 
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Outstanding supporting actor, drama: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Outstanding directing, drama: 
Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire 
Outstanding supporting actress, drama: 
Margo Martindale, Justified
Outstanding writing, drama series: 
Jason Katims, Friday Night Lights
Outstanding variety, music or comedy series: 
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding directing for a variety, music or comedy series: Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live (host: Justin Timberlake)
Outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy series: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding reality competition: The Amazing Race
Outstanding lead actress, comedy: 
Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
Outstanding lead actor, comedy series: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Outstanding writing for a comedy: Steve Levitan, Jeffrey Richman (“Caught in the Act”), Modern Family
Outstanding director, comedy: 
Michael Alan Spiller (“Halloween”),  Modern Family
Outstanding supporting actor, comedy:
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Outstanding supporting actress, comedy: Julie Bowen (Modern Family)

Emmy Nominations are in!

I would like to say I am a connoisseur of hip quality TV, but the truth is I love and need it so much that I am, in all truth, a junkie. I need my fixes of my favourite shows like Nurse Jackie, Glee, Big Bang Theory, Modern Fanily and Parks & Recreation, and I need them often and now!

So as a junkie of pop culture, one of the big events of the year is the release of the Emmy nominations and this year’s are out and you can see them here:



My only moment of bug-eyed spluttering outrage was the omission of Community, one of the laugh out loud funniest shows on Tv right now. For shame Emmys, for shame…