The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

2013 Media Year in Review

Well, I finally pulled the plug on cable this summer while the kids were at camp. It’s a sign of how little anyone watches ‘live’ TV that the kids didn’t notice until they’d been back almost a week. But that didn’t mean I stopped watching TV, just that now I’m more aggressively pursuing the “catch up to it later” strategy. (I did buy the final season of Breaking Bad on Amazon Prime).

So, TV Series:

  • I took Peter (and others) up on Supernatural. It took me something like 5-6 months to watch the first season, but then it started picking up. The second season took half as long, and now I’m watching a season a month or so. Yet another decent X-Files type monster of the week, but with good mythology (finally) and some serious humor (Ben Edlund, aka creator of the Tick, probably helps).
  • I’ve been watching the original Star Trek, most of which I hadn’t seen. It’s ok, if suffering from all the flaws 60s TV.
  • I’ve started catching up on “classic” series I’ve missed. Right now I’m in the third season of Sopranos, and 2nd season of the Shield. I’ll probably add the Wire once I’ve finished with those.
  • In the not so classic series, I burned through all the Tru Blood on DVD. It’s stupid, it’s amusing. And for once HBO has a series where only good looking people are allowed to be naked.
  • I just finished the first season of Episodes, which I’d never heard about (except from family). It’s worth checking out.
  • TV I actually pay for (or plan to) — Breaking Bad, Dr. Who, Sherlock, Archer, Justified.

Movies I liked:

  • The World’s End and The End of the World were both funny and disposable. Worth checking out of you like the respective casts. Ditto Ted.
  • The Spanish Prisoner. I like Mamet’s stuff.
  • Shaw Brothers — Battle Wizard and Return of the Five Deadly Venoms. It’s Saturday afternoon bad chop-sockey theater all the time! Battle Wizard is particularly over the top (pointing your finger at someone and going bang-bang to shoot them with chi-lasers. And karate vs gorilla).
  • Holy Motors was amazing and insane.
  • In modern HK movies — Mad Detective was interesting. Maybe not quite good, but interesting. Unlike Monk, their insane detectives aren’t cute insane. Tai Chi Hero was the followup I hoped it would be. The Man with the Iron Fists didnt’ work.
  • Argo was good. Most of the other Oscar movies I saw were meh. I couldn’t stand Silver Linings Playbook. Or The Master. Or Flight. (I turned all of them off without finishing).
  • Robot and Frank is worth checking out, and not just because it has some people I went to grad school with/near (the roboticists in the movie opening/close are real).

Meh:

  • Only God Forgives — A lesser Drive.
  • The Amazing Spider Man, The Hobbit, Man of Steel — We are living in the golden age of geek media. You no longer get points just for showing up.
  • Oh, yes, Agents of Shield — This applies to you too. So bad.

Anyway, open thread on Media recommendations.

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Written by taogaming

December 27, 2013 at 11:34 am

Posted in Open Thread, TV & Media

15 Responses

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  1. Sons of Anarchy (TV series). It’s like The Sopranos with beards and motorcycles (and Hamlet). Created by one of the main writers for The Shield.

    Doug Orleans

    December 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    • “The Killing” is fantastic.

      ekted

      December 27, 2013 at 1:24 pm

  2. Second Sons of Anarchy, however the sixth season has gone to a place of utter ridiculousness that has me questioning purchasing any more seasons. (Sort of like the writing for Walking Dead.)

    Both of the Amazon series for Prime (Betas and Alpha House, especially Alpha House) are great.

    In a similar vein to Justified is Hell on Wheels – really picks up towards the end of the first season, for as unrealistic as it is, ranks up with Deadwood for me. Plus it gets my blood boiling for some 18XX even though the only relation is that they are continuously in an operating round. Also Longmire which has some good acting, good stories (crime of the week throwback), but occasionally has some spiritual nonsense that detracts from the picture overall.

    The Americans is also a series worth checking out, especially if you have any interest in the Cold War.

    Louie is also great and the seasons are on Netflix, its depressing humor.

    Charles Feduke

    December 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  3. My favorite show ever is a miniseries (13 episodes): Day Break (There is a crappy movie of thesame name, that has nothing to do with this series). It helped that it didnt run long enough to suck and that it has a gregular ending. The idea is “Groundhog day meets “Good guy gets framed for murder”-thriller. Highly recommened.

    I also enjoyed the first season of Orphan Black.

    peer

    December 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    • Hm. Is Daybreak (the movie) part of the Nightwatch series? Sounds familiar.

      taogaming

      December 29, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      • No, although there are apparently several movies and series with similiar titles (Daybreakers, Daybreak, Day break, Breaking Day…)
        And there is a nother series called Daybreak. Im referring to Day break with Taye Diggs in lead…

        peer

        December 30, 2013 at 4:20 am

  4. Don’t recall where you stand on Stargate SG-1, but I recommend Stargate Universe. Only ran for 2 seasons before it was prematurely killed. It’s the first “we’re stranded on a ship far from home” series to really embrace the premise and explore it fully. Against all odds, the teen genius is the most compelling character on the show. I was very sad the network didn’t let it go the distance.

    I’ve also been enjoying Continuum, the Canadian time travel series showing on SyFy, featuring a veritable Who’s Who of Vancouver-based sci-fi TV actors.

    Peter

    December 30, 2013 at 11:21 am

    • I gave Continuum a few episodes, but it Meh’ed out. Then again, the first season of most SF is crap.

      taogaming

      December 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

  5. I’ll have to check out Supernatural, I didn’t realize Edlund was involved.

    TV:

    Community – Seasons 1-3 are excellent, season 4 is meh (ok but not up to the standard). All are available on Hulu. Season 5 starts this Thursday with the original show runner coming back.

    Movie:

    Upstream Color – By Shane Carruth, creator of Primer, the one time travel movie worthy of the name. Upstream Color is…moody, sort of a love story I guess. Less of a puzzle than Primer and more of a “here’s the screwy place that things could end up in if this were true”. Last I checked it was on Netflix Instant.

    frunk

    December 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    • I couldn’t get into Upstream Color. And Community may be one I just have to skip the pilot, becuase I couldn’t stand it. (See also. American Horror Story). But for now I’m not inclined to 2nd chance them.

      taogaming

      December 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      • Try the second episode of Community, “Spanish 101”. If you still don’t like it then it isn’t to your taste.

        frunk

        December 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm

  6. Seconding Orphan Black – a great series with an astonishing central performance.

    Utopia was a British miniseries with SF tinges. I’m not sure how available it is in the States but certainly worth a watch, though it is pretty brutal.

    Iain Triffitt

    January 1, 2014 at 4:38 pm

  7. I enjoyed The World’s End. Which End of the World are you referring to, Christopher Lee’s ?

    Jian

    January 7, 2014 at 4:00 am

    • The Pegg/Frost End of the World (unless I’ve flipped that name with the Jonah Hill one).

      taogaming

      January 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

      • The World’s End is Pegg. Did some googling, Jonah Hill’s This is The End?

        Jian

        January 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm


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