2015 In Review: 16 Good Things I Saw On Television


Last night, as I was trying to write up my annual list of the good things that I saw on TV during the previous year, I realized that I was struggling a bit to come up with enough entries to justify doing a list.  The more I thought about it, the more apparent it became that I watched a lot less TV than usual last year.

(Though I did manage to watch a lot of Lifetime movies…)

Furthermore, when I do think about what I saw on television last year, a lot of my memories deal with being annoyed.  I find myself fixating on those terrible Liberty Mutual Insurance Commercials and that stupid advertisement where they wouldn’t stop saying, “The Tobin Stance…” and especially that Taco Bell commercial with those horrible hipsters, Mary and Dominic, talking about how much they love breakfast tacos.

BLEH!

But, that said, there were still a few things worth praising!  (Hope is never totally lost…)  And here they are in no particular order:

1) South Park Had One Of Its Greatest Seasons Ever!

Seriously, 2015 saw South Park have one of its greatest seasons ever.  Trey and Matt took on the excesses of PC Culture and ended up providing one of the most important and incisive critiques of 21st Century America ever.  At a time when political and cultural criticism is growing increasingly dreary and predictable, South Park delivered a much-needed jolt to the system and reminded of us why satire and humor are so important in the first place.  Perhaps the best part of this season was watching dreary PC-obsessed critics desperately trying to figure out how to praise this season without acknowledging that they were the ones being satirized.

2) UnReal

One of the best shows on television premiered on the Lifetime network.  UnReal took us behind the scenes of a Bachelor-type series and provided the ultimate take down of reality television.  I love reality TV but I loved UnReal even more.

Enjoy Jacksonville, Ash.

3) Ash vs. Evil Dead

Save us, Groovy Bruce!

4) Agent Carter

Agent Carter didn’t get as much attention as it deserved during its 8-episode short season.  I loved the show’s retro look, I loved the way it satirized 40s style sexism, I loved the dashing Dominic Cooper as Iron Man’s father, and most of all, I loved Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter!  The overrated Supergirl has been getting a lot of attention as an empowering comic book show but honestly, Agent Carter did it first, did it with style and wit, and did it a 100 times better.

5) Show Me A Hero

At times, this HBO miniseries was a bit too heavy-handed for my taste.  But overall, it was a fascinating look at municipal politics and racism up north.  (Yes, there are racists up north, as much as people refuse to admit it.)  Plus, Oscar Isaac gave a great performance as an initially idealistic politician who is literally destroyed by his attempt to do the right thing.

6) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

HBO pretty much fell apart this year (The Brink?  Ballers?) but, fortunately, Netflix was there to offer up some of the best original programming of the year.  Kimmy Schmidt is brilliantly hilarious and gives Elle Kemper a role that is finally worthy of her talents.

Jessica Jones

7) Jessica Jones

Again, who needs Supergirl when you’ve got Jessica Jones?

8) Glenn lived on The Walking Dead!

Actually, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  To be honest, having Glenn survive that zombie attack totally goes against everything that The Walking Dead previously stood for.  After all, this was the show where anyone could die.  It didn’t matter if you were likable or popular or if the sight of you being ripped into pieces would traumatize the viewers.  Under the previously established rules of the show, Glenn should have died.  And yet, he didn’t.  And I can’t complain because, seriously — was anyone really ready to see Glenn die?  That said, if Glenn somehow escapes certain death a second time, it’ll be a problem.

Degrassi_Season_13_title_card

9) Degrassi Was Picked Up By Netflix!

Oh my God, I was so upset when I heard that my beloved Degrassi would no longer be airing on TeenNick.  I’ve always said that the day when there were no more episodes of Degrassi would be the day that I would finally have to admit to being an adult.  Fortunately, Netflix picked up Degrassi so I got to put off adulthood for at least another year.

10) More Old People TV Networks

I’m a history nerd so I love all of these TV networks that only show reruns of old people TV shows.  I may never get to personally experience what it was like to be alive in the 1970s but I can a rerun on an Old People TV Network and get a taste.  And happily, it seems like there’s a new Old People TV network every day!  Seriously, I’m getting quite an education.

shock

11) Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci on TCM

Last year, they showed both Shock and The House By The Cemetery on TCM!  Finally, Bava and Fulci are getting the respect they deserve.  Now, if only TCM would show a Jean Rollin film…

12) Speaking of TCM…

Actually, I just love TCM in general.  It’s without a doubt the greatest thing in the world!

13) Debate Counter-Programming

Seriously, I am so happy that there is always something else for me to watch while everyone else in the world is watching a Presidential debate.  My main fear is that, in the future, all of the networks will decide to simultaneously air the debates (like they occasionally do with charity fund raisers) and there will be no escape from the droning emptiness of it all.

(Seriously, I could imagine them doing it.  “These debates are damn important…”  Whatever.)

14) One of my tweets appeared on TV!

Seriously that was pretty neat, even if I did turn out to be 100% incorrect in my prediction.

B-e7UMLIUAA9a7V

15) I trashed The Leisure Class and sent at least one troll into a rage spiral!

Seriously, never underestimate how much some people love the unlovable!  My oddly controversial review of the Project Greenlight film really rubbed some people the wrong way.  That some people felt so strongly about it is both alarming and amusing.

16) Dancing Sharks at The Super Bowl!

That was in 2015, wasn’t it?

Dance, Shark, dance!

Dance, Shark, dance!

Tomorrow, I’ll continue my look back at 2015 with my ten favorite non-fiction books of the year!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2015:

  1. Valerie Troutman’s 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw in 2015
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2015
  3. 2015 In Review: The Best of SyFy
  4. 2015 in Review: The Best of Lifetime
  5. 2015 In Review: Lisa’s Picks For The 16 Worst Films of 2015
  6. 2015 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 10 Favorite Songs of 2015

 

Scenes I Love: Jaws


quint_indianapolis_speech_jaws_robert_shaw

“You know the thing about a shark, he’s got…lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white.” — Quint

People have blamed Spielberg and his breakout film, Jaws, as the cause of the blockbuster mentality that studios have had since this film came out. Studios and producers wanted to recreate the ultra-successful box-office numbers of Jaws. Despite the fact that this film was modestly budgeted people nowadays who think they’re experts in film point to it as the culprit. They’ve called it the film that begun the dumbing down of Hollywood when creativity was sacrificed for profit.

Why did I pick a scene from this film as a favorite? I picked this particular scene because it’s one reason why the film succeeded and made people come back again and again. It’s a scene that perfectly captures one reason why we love see films in a communal setting. We want to share the same experience and emotions this scene brought up from the pit of each audience’s psyche.

Jaws didn’t ruin the creativity in filmmaking. I like to think that this one film was a filmmaker at his most creativie (shark wouldn’t work properly so Spielberg kept it off-screen which just added to the terror and tension in the film). This very scene goes down as one of the greatest film monologues. It sets up the danger the trio faces with some anecdotal evidence from the very person who survived the experience, but who might have become unhinged because of it. I love the look of frozen terror on the face of Richard Dryefuss’ character as he listens to Robert Shaw tell the story of the ill-fated journey of the U.S.S. Indianapolis.

This latest “Scenes I Love” is why I consider Spielberg one of the best filmmaker of his generation and probably beyond that.